Syntactic alignment between computers and people: the role of belief about mental states

Holly P. Branigan, Martin J. Pickering, Jamie Pearson, Janet F. McLean, Clifford I. Nass

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


People tend to mirror the syntax used by their interlocutors in dialogue. Given that people treat computers as “social actors” in many ways, we might expect them to mirror computers’ syntax as well. We report an experiment in which naïve participants played a dialogue game in which they believed that they were interacting with either a person or a computer. In fact, in both cases their “interlocutor” was a computer program that produced pre-scripted utterances. Participants demonstrated a very strong tendency to repeat the syntactic form of their “interlocutor’s” immediately preceding utterance in both conditions. It does not appear that beliefs about the mental states of one’s interlocutor mediate between perception and production.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 25th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society, July 31 - August 2 2003, Boston, Massachusetts
EditorsRichard Alterman, David Kirsh
Place of PublicationMahwah, NJ
PublisherLawrence Erlbaum Associates
Number of pages6
ISBN (Print)0805849912
Publication statusPublished - 2003
Externally publishedYes
Event25th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society - Park Plaza Hotel, Boston, United States
Duration: 30 Jul 20031 Aug 2003
Conference number: 25


Conference25th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society
Abbreviated titleCogSci 2003
Country/TerritoryUnited States


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