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The timing and construction of preference: A quantitative study

Kendrick, K. H., & Torreira, F. (2015). The timing and construction of preference: A quantitative study. Discourse Processes, 52(4), 255-289. doi:10.1080/0163853X.2014.955997.
Conversation-analytic research has argued that the timing and construction of preferred responding actions (e.g., acceptances) differ from that of dispreferred responding actions (e.g., rejections), potentially enabling early response prediction by recipients. We examined 195 preferred and dispreferred responding actions in telephone corpora and found that the timing of the most frequent cases of each type did not differ systematically. Only for turn transitions of 700 ms or more was the proportion of dispreferred responding actions clearly greater than that of preferreds. In contrast, an analysis of the timing that included turn formats (i.e., those with or without qualification) revealed clearer differences. Small departures from a normal gap duration decrease the likelihood of a preferred action in a preferred turn format (e.g., a simple “yes”). We propose that the timing of a response is best understood as a turn-constructional feature, the first virtual component of a preferred or dispreferred turn format.
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The Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics is an institute of the German Max Planck Society. Our mission is to undertake basic research into the psychological,social and biological foundations of language. The goal is to understand how our minds and brains process language, how language interacts with other aspects of mind, and how we can learn languages of quite different types.

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