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The Spontaneity of Media Interviews

Sabine Kowal, Mary R. Bassett, and Daniel C. O'Connell

The aim of this study is to show that, for effective communication in interviews, media professional sometimes speak spontaneously instead of reading their questions.  The research question arises from the incompatibility of ideal delivery, on the one hand, and the concept of spontaneity as hesitant and therefore defective, on the other.  In a 2 X 2 ( speakers X tasks) within-subject design, readings and interviews of prominent American TV network anchormen (W. Cronkite and D. Rather) are compared in terms of temporal and hesitation variables.  The results indicate differences between the two types of speaking in pause duration, variance of articulation rate per phrase-length unit, occurrence of pauses at various syntactic positions, the relationsyhip between pause duration and pause position, and occurrence of vocal hesitations (filled pauses, repeats, and false starts).  The findings are interpreted in terms of a neglected but basic concept required for any theory of language use--communicative intent.
Kowal, S., M. Bassett, & D. O'Connell 1985 The Spontaneity of Media Interviews. In Journal of Psycholinguistic Research 14/1: 1-18.

Key points relevant to the study of filled pauses


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