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Journal Article

Raising the stakes of communication: Evidence for increased gesture production as predicted by the GSA framework


Holler,  Judith
Neurobiology of Language Department, MPI for Psycholinguistics, Max Planck Society;
Language in our Hands: Sign and Gesture, MPI for Psycholinguistics, Max Planck Society;
Department of Psychology, Manchester University Manchester;
Radboud University;
Communication in Social Interaction, Radboud University Nijmegen, External Organizations;

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Kelly, S., Byrne, K., & Holler, J. (2011). Raising the stakes of communication: Evidence for increased gesture production as predicted by the GSA framework. Information, 2(4), 579-593. doi:10.3390/info2040579.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-0012-18BD-D
Theorists of language have argued that co-­speech hand gestures are an
intentional part of social communication. The present study provides evidence for these
claims by showing that speakers adjust their gesture use according to their perceived relevance to the audience. Participants were asked to read about items that were and were not useful in a wilderness survival scenario, under the pretense that they would then
explain (on camera) what they learned to one of two different audiences. For one audience (a group of college students in a dormitory orientation activity), the stakes of successful
communication were low;; for the other audience (a group of students preparing for a
rugged camping trip in the mountains), the stakes were high. In their explanations to the camera, participants in the high stakes condition produced three times as many
representational gestures, and spent three times as much time gesturing, than participants in the low stakes condition. This study extends previous research by showing that the anticipated consequences of one’s communication—namely, the degree to which information may be useful to an intended recipient—influences speakers’ use of gesture.