What do we know about the mechanisms of response planning in dialog?

Corps, R. E. (2023). What do we know about the mechanisms of response planning in dialog? In Psychology of Learning and Motivation. Advance online publication. doi:10.1016/bs.plm.2023.02.002.
During dialog, interlocutors take turns at speaking with little gap or overlap between their contributions. But language production in monolog is comparatively slow. Theories of dialog tend to agree that interlocutors manage these timing demands by planning a response early, before the current speaker reaches the end of their turn. In the first half of this chapter, I review experimental research supporting these theories. But this research also suggests that planning a response early, while simultaneously comprehending, is difficult. Does response planning need to be this difficult during dialog? In other words, is early-planning always necessary? In the second half of this chapter, I discuss research that suggests the answer to this question is no. In particular, corpora of natural conversation demonstrate that speakers do not directly respond to the immediately preceding utterance of their partner—instead, they continue an utterance they produced earlier. This parallel talk likely occurs because speakers are highly incremental and plan only part of their utterance before speaking, leading to pauses, hesitations, and disfluencies. As a result, speakers do not need to engage in extensive advance planning. Thus, laboratory studies do not provide a full picture of language production in dialog, and further research using naturalistic tasks is needed.
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