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date: 18 November 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Language users seem skilled at adapting their language processing to changes in context. Although such adaptations may give the impression of perspective taking, other mechanisms could give rise to the same behavior. As a consequence, merely observing that a speaker produced an utterance that matched a listener’s informational needs, or that a listener interpreted an utterance in the manner a speaker intended, does not warrant the inference that any perspective taking actually occurred. This chapter reviews four “patterns of deception” that yield behaviors that look like perspective taking but that, on closer inspection, actually reflect simpler kinds of processing. These patterns are personified in four basic character types: the Double (egocentric projection), the Charlatan (attribute substitution), the Conspirator (independent processing by functionally encapsulated subsystems), and the Freeloader (interactive coordination). The existence of these alternative explanations suggests a need for greater caution in interpreting evidence from studies of dialogue.

Keywords: Language processing, psycholinguistics, perspective taking, pragmatics

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