Previous ] Home ] Up ] Next ]

The perception of pause in question-answer pairs

Valentina d'Urso and Vanda Zammuner

The hypothesis that the duration of interturn pauses between questions and answer in verbal exchange is predictable was tested in two experiements.   In Experimenet 1, subjects estimated the lengths of 3- and 7-sec gaps inserted between questions and answers in their own language and in a language they did not understand; they also estimated gaps inserted into a sequence of white noise.  In Experiment 2, subjects conducted a telephone interview with a person who was instructed to intentionally delay beginning to answer some of the questions posed; the dependent variable was the amount of time the interviewer waited for the answer before spontaneously taking another turn.  In both studies the amount of pause perceived or found acceptable between a question and an answer varied as a function of linguistic factors or encyclopedic knowledge.  The results are interpreted as reflecting a rule in language use that relates the rhythm of turn-taking to the amount of mental work plausibly needed to answer a question.
d'Urso, V. & V. Zammuner 1990 The perception of pause in question-answer pairs. In Bulletin of the Psychonomic Society 28/1: 41-43.

Key points relevant to the study of filled pauses


Previous ] Home ] Up ] Next ]

send feedback

This site is maintained by Ralph L. Rose
Last Revised: 99/08/26

Note! This is the original FPRC ca. 1998. It is made available for archival purposes only. Click here to return to the current FPRC.