Creating a New Communication System: Gesture has the Upper Hand

Casey J. Lister, Nicolas Fay, Timothy Ellison, Jeneva Ohan

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review


    How does modality affect our ability to create a new communication system? This paper describes two experiments that address this question, and extend prior related findings by drawing from a significantly more extensive list of concepts (over 1000) than has been used previously. In Experiment 1, participants communicated concepts to a partner using either gestures or non-linguistic vocalizations (sounds that are not words). Experiment 1 confirmed that participants who gesture 1) produce more strongly 'motivated' signs that physically resemble the concepts they represent (i.e., are iconic), 2) are better able to correctly guess the meaning of a partner's signs, and 3) show stronger alignment on a shared inventory of signs. Experiment 2 addressed a limitation of Experiment 1 (concurrent feedback only in the gesture condition). In Experiment 2 concurrent feedback was eliminated from the gesture and vocal conditions. Gesture again outperformed vocalization on communication effectiveness and sign alignment.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationProceedings of the 37th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society
    EditorsDC Noelle, R Dale, AS Warlaumont, J Yoshimi, T Matlock, & C Jennings
    Place of PublicationAustin, USA
    PublisherCognitive Science Society
    EditionPeer Reviewed
    ISBN (Print)9780991196722
    Publication statusPublished - 2015
    Event37th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society - Pasadena, USA
    Duration: 1 Jan 2015 → …


    Conference37th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society
    Period1/01/15 → …
    OtherJuly 22-25 2015
    Internet address

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