Cited by Lee Sonogan
Humans can communicate even with few existing conventions in common (e.g., when they lack a shared language). We explored what makes this phenomenon possible with a nonlinguistic experimental task requiring participants to coordinate toward a common goal. We observed participants creating new communicative conventions using the most minimal possible signals. These conventions, furthermore, changed on a trial-by-trial basis in response to shared environmental and task constraints. Strikingly, as a result, signals of the same form successfully conveyed contradictory messages from trial to trial. Such behavior is evidence for the involvement of what we term joint inference, in which social interactants spontaneously infer the most sensible communicative convention in light of the common ground between them. Joint inference may help to elucidate how communicative conventions emerge instantaneously and how they are modified and reshaped into the elaborate systems of conventions involved in human communication, including natural languages.
Publication: Psychological Science (Peer-Reviewed Journal)
Pub date: Oct 28, 2016 Doi: https://doi.org/10.1177/0956797616661199