Referential collaboration with computers

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“Is the referential behavior of language users sensitive to the human vs. computer nature of the addressee? In a production experiment participants were asked to help a distant partner to solve a problem by identifying objects on a computer screen. The addressee was either a distant human or a distant computer who/ which was in need of the information. The addressees either provided feedback or not. The results show that human addressees trigger more overspecified referential expressions than computer addressees in a non-feedback situation. In the feedback conditions, the nature of the addressee had no effect. The results suggest differences between humans and computers, not only in terms of users’ evaluations, attitudes and motivation, but also in terms of assumptions on cognitive capacities.”


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