Article details

Research area
Natural language & AI

Cognition, 149 (2016), pp. 104-120


Daphna Heller, Christopher Parisien, Suzanne Stevenson

Perspective-taking behavior as the probabilistic weighing of multiple domains


Our starting point is the apparently-contradictory results in the psycholinguistic literature regarding whether, when interpreting a definite referring expressions, listeners process relative to the common ground from the earliest moments of processing. We propose that referring expressions are not interpreted relative solely to the common ground or solely to one’s Private (or egocentric) knowledge, but rather reflect the simultaneous integration of the two perspectives. We implement this proposal in a Bayesian model of reference resolution, focusing on the model’s predictions for two prior studies: Keysar, Barr, Balin, and Brauner (2000) and Heller, Grodner and Tanenhaus (2008). We test the model’s predictions in a visual-world eye-tracking experiment, demonstrating that the original results cannot simply be attributed to different perspective-taking strategies, and showing how they can arise from the same perspective-taking behavior.

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