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Gesture, gaze, and the body in the organisation of turn-taking for conversation.


Holler,  Judith
Language and Cognition Department, MPI for Psycholinguistics, Max Planck Society;
INTERACT, MPI for Psycholinguistics, Max Planck Society;


Kendrick,  Kobin H.
Language and Cognition Department, MPI for Psycholinguistics, Max Planck Society;
INTERACT, MPI for Psycholinguistics, Max Planck Society;

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Holler, J., & Kendrick, K. H. (2015). Gesture, gaze, and the body in the organisation of turn-taking for conversation. Talk presented at the 19th Meeting of the European Society for Cognitive Psychology (ESCoP 2015). Paphos, Cyprus. 2015-09-17 - 2015-09-20.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-002B-8554-D
The primordial site of conversation is face-to-face social interaction where participants make use of visual modalities, as well as talk, in the coordination of collaborative action. This most basic observation leads to a fundamental question: what is the place of multimodal resources such as these in the organisation of turn-taking for conversation? To answer this question, we collected a corpus of both dyadic and triadic face-to-face interactions between adults, with the aim to build on existing observations of the use of visual bodily modalities in conversation (e.g., Duncan, 1972; Goodwin, 1981; Kendon, 1967; Lerner 2003; Mondada 2007; Oloff, 2013; Rossano, 2012; Sacks & Schegloff, 2002; Schegloff, 1998).

The corpus retains the spontaneity and naturalness of everyday talk as much as possible while combining it with state-of-the-art technology to allow for exact, detailed analyses of verbal and visual conversational behaviours. Each participant (1) was filmed by three high definition video cameras (providing a frontal plus two lateral views) allowing for fine-grained, frame-by-frame analyses of bodily conduct, as well as the precise measurement of how individual bodily behaviours are timed with respect to each other, and with respect to speech; (2) wore a head-mounted microphone providing high quality recordings of the audio signal suitable for determining on- and off-sets of speaking turns, as well as inter-turn gaps, with high precision, (3) wore head-mounted eye-tracking glasses to monitor eye movements and fixations overlaid onto a video recording of the visual scene the participant was viewing at any given moment (including the other [two] participant[s] and the surroundings in which the conversation took place). The HD video recordings of body behaviour, the eye-tracking video recordings, and the audio recordings from all 2/3 participants engaged in each conversation were then integrated within a single software application (ELAN) for synchronised playback and analysis.

The analyses focus on the use and interplay of visual bodily resources, including eye gaze, co-speech gestures, and body posture, during conversational coordination, as well as on how these signals interweave with participants’ turns at talk. The results provide insight into the process of turn projection as evidenced by participants’ gaze behaviour with a focus on the role different bodily cues play in this context, and into how concurrent visual and verbal resources are involved in turn construction and turn allocation. This project will add to our understanding of core issues in the field of CA, such as by elucidating the role of multi-modality and number of participants engaged in talk-in-interaction (Schegloff, 2009).


Duncan, S. (1972). Some signals and rules for taking speaking turns in conversations. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 23, 283-92.

Goodwin, C. (1981). Conversational organization: Interaction between speakers and hearers. New York: Academic Press.

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Oloff, F. (2013). Embodied withdrawal after overlap resolution. Journal of Pragmatics, 46, 139-156.

Rossano, F. (2012). Gaze behavior in face-to-face interaction. PhD Thesis, Radboud University Nijmegen, Nijmegen.

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