Gestures and phases: the dynamics of speech-hand communication

Treffner, Paul and Peter, Mira and Kleidon, Mark (2008) Gestures and phases: the dynamics of speech-hand communication. Ecological Psychology, 20 (1). pp. 32-64. ISSN 1040-7413


We investigated how a listener's perceived meaning of a spoken sentence is influenced by the relative timing between a speaker's speech and accompanying hand gestures. Participants viewed a computer-animated character who uttered the phrase, 'Put the book there now.' while executing a simple right-handed beat gesture whose location relative to the utterance was precisely controlled in a frame-by-frame fashion. The participant's task consisted of making a judgment about two related aspects of the actor's perceived speech: (a) Which word was emphasized? and (b) How clear was the emphasis? That is, did it make sense? The results revealed that the perceived emphasis was determined by the timing (phasing) of the speaker's hand gesture. Furthermore, the clarity of the perceived emphasis (i.e., meaningfulness) was influenced by the affordances in the immediate environment of the speaker. Discussion addresses the primacy of ostensive specification and gesture in communicative events, the dynamics of speech-hand coordination during both actual and virtual dialogue, and the role of environmental affordances in grounding informative communicative acts in the ecology of organism-environment dynamics.

Statistics for USQ ePrint 20934
Statistics for this ePrint Item
Item Type: Article (Commonwealth Reporting Category C)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Permanent restricted access to Published version due to publisher copyright restrictions.
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Historic - Faculty of Sciences - Department of Psychology (Up to 30 Jun 2013)
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Historic - Faculty of Sciences - Department of Psychology (Up to 30 Jun 2013)
Date Deposited: 29 Mar 2012 06:49
Last Modified: 11 Nov 2014 02:42
Uncontrolled Keywords: non-verbal communication; hand gestures; speech language coordination; phonology
Fields of Research (2008): 20 Language, Communication and Culture > 2004 Linguistics > 200404 Laboratory Phonetics and Speech Science
17 Psychology and Cognitive Sciences > 1701 Psychology > 170112 Sensory Processes, Perception and Performance
17 Psychology and Cognitive Sciences > 1702 Cognitive Sciences > 170204 Linguistic Processes (incl. Speech Production and Comprehension)
Socio-Economic Objectives (2008): E Expanding Knowledge > 97 Expanding Knowledge > 970117 Expanding Knowledge in Psychology and Cognitive Sciences
Identification Number or DOI:

Actions (login required)

View Item Archive Repository Staff Only