Gesturing integrates top-down and bottom-up information: Joint effects of speakers' expectations and addressees' feedback
Language and Cognition
Speakers adapt their speech based on both prior expectations and incoming cues about their addressees' informational needs (Kuhlen and Brennan 2010). Here, we investigate whether top-down information, such as speakers' expectations about addressees' attentiveness, and bottom-up cues, such as addressees' feedback during conversation, also influence speakers' gestures. In 39 dyads, addressees were either attentive when speakers told a joke or else distracted by a second task, while speakers
... hile speakers expected addressees to be either attentive or distracted. Independently of adjustments in speech, both speakers' expectations and addressees' feedback shaped quantitative and qualitative aspects of gesturing. Speakers gestured more frequently when their prior expectations matched addressees' actual behavior. Moreover, speakers with attentive addressees gestured more in the periphery of gesture space when they expected addressees to be attentive. These systematic adjustments in gesturing suggest that speakers flexibly adapt to their addressees by integrating bottomup cues available during the interaction in light of attributions made from top-down expectations. That these sources of information lead to adjustments patterning similarly in speech and gesture informs theoretical frameworks of how different modalities are deployed and coordinated in dialogue.