Influence of perspective and goals on reference production in conversation

Si On Yoon, Sungryong Koh, Sarah Brown-Schmidt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We examined the extent to which speakers take into consideration the addressee's perspective in language production. Previous research on this process had revealed clear deficits (Horton & Keysar, Cognition 59:91-117, 1996; Wardlow Lane & Ferreira, Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition 34:1466-1481, 2008). Here, we evaluated a new hypothesis-that the relevance of the addressee's perspective depends on the speaker's goals. In two experiments, Korean speakers described a target object in situations in which the perspective status of a competitor object (e. g., a large plate when describing a smaller plate) was manipulated. In Experiment 1, we examined whether speakers would use scalar-modified expressions even when the competitor was hidden from the addressee. The results demonstrated that information from both the speaker's and the addressee's perspectives influenced production. In Experiment 2, we examined whether utterance goals modulate this process. The results indicated that when a speaker makes a request, the addressee's perspective has a stronger influence than it does when the speaker informs the addressee. These results suggest that privileged knowledge does shape language use, but crucially, that the degree to which the addressee's perspective is considered is shaped by the relevance of the addressee's perspective to the utterance goals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)699-707
Number of pages9
JournalPsychonomic Bulletin and Review
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2012


  • Language production
  • Perspective
  • Psycholinguistics
  • Referential expression
  • Utterance goal

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


Dive into the research topics of 'Influence of perspective and goals on reference production in conversation'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this