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ERIC Number: EJ1055893
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2013-May
Pages: 11
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-0278-7393
What's Learned Together Stays Together: Speakers' Choice of Referring Expression Reflects Shared Experience
Gorman, Kristen S.; Gegg-Harrison, Whitney; Marsh, Chelsea R.; Tanenhaus, Michael K.
Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, v39 n3 p843-853 May 2013
When referring to named objects, speakers can choose either a name ("mbira") or a description ("that gourd-like instrument with metal strips"); whether the name provides useful information depends on whether the speaker's knowledge of the name is shared with the addressee. But, how do speakers determine what is shared? In 2 experiments a naïve participant (director) learned names for novel objects, then instructed another participant (matcher), who viewed 3 objects, to click on the target object. Directors learned novel names in 2 phases. First, the director and the matcher learned (shared) names either together or alone; second, the director learned (privileged) names alone. Directors typically used a name for items with shared names and a description for items with privileged names. When the director and matcher learned the names individually but with knowledge of what the other learned, directors were much more likely to use privileged names than when director and matcher learned shared names together. Experiment 1b separated effects of collaborative learning from partner-specific effects, showing collaborative learning experience with 1 person helps a speaker distinguish shared and privileged information with a new partner who has the same knowledge. Experiment 2 showed that partner-specific effects persisted even when semantic category was a reliable cue to which names were privileged. The results are interpreted as evidence that ordinary memory processes provide access to shared knowledge in real-time production of referring expressions and that shared experience when learning shared names provides a strong memory cue to the ground status of names.
American Psychological Association. Journals Department, 750 First Street NE, Washington, DC 20002. Tel: 800-374-2721; Tel: 202-336-5510; Fax: 202-336-5502; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: National Institutes of Health (DHHS); National Science Foundation
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: New York
Grant or Contract Numbers: HD-27206