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How we, uh, perceive disfluencies: the effect of linguistic disfluencies on judgements of learning, attention-orientation and academic materials

Mauro, Brenna (2017) How we, uh, perceive disfluencies: the effect of linguistic disfluencies on judgements of learning, attention-orientation and academic materials. Undergraduate Thesis, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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It has been proposed that linguistic disfluencies actually function to aid the listener’s memory for what they hear. When speech contains disfluencies, the listener has higher rates of recall for the speech’s content (Fraundorf & Watson, 2011). This phenomenon is known as the disfluency effect (Seufert et al., 2016). The current study examines how linguistically filled pauses (e.g. uh, um) affect judgments of learning (JOLs), and if they lead to better memory for sentences and longer academic discourses—if so, if this is due to an attention orientating effect of disfluencies. In two experiments conducted online, we hypothesized that disfluencies would act as a cue to the listener that the speaker is having difficulty with the topic, and that disfluent speech would be perceived as more difficult for the participant to understand and lead to increased memory. In both experiments, participants rated and perceived disfluent speech as more difficult for the speaker remember, and as more difficult for themselves to remember later. These findings reflect that disfluencies do alert the listener that the speaker could be having difficulty remembering or understanding the speech. However, we did not find the hypothesized disfluency effect, in that disfluencies did not aid later memory. This is an another example of a case when metamemory, or people’s judgments and beliefs about memory, fails and people incorrectly judge what variables will affect their memory (Kornell et al., 2011; Kornell & Bjork, 2007; Yan, et al., 2017). Often, it is the sense of fluency that affects people’s perceptions of their confidence in and ease of understanding the content. This is what we saw—disfluent speech led listeners to predict difficulty with later memory, even though there was no actual difference. Further, the degrees of disfluency matters for people’s judgments of knowledge. People can perceive a difference in disfluency levels.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Mauro, Brennabem80@pitt.eduBEM800000-0003-0101-5493
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairFraundorf, Scott
Committee MemberKirk, Afton
Committee MemberArnold, Jennifer
Committee MemberWarren, Tessa
Committee MemberLibertus, Melissa
Date: 2 November 2017
Defense Date: 6 November 2017
Approval Date: 6 December 2017
Submission Date: 4 December 2017
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 48
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: David C. Frederick Honors College
Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Psychology
Degree: BPhil - Bachelor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Undergraduate Thesis
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: disfluency, disfluency effect, linguistic disfluency, academia
Date Deposited: 06 Dec 2017 20:37
Last Modified: 06 Dec 2017 20:37


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