How Long is Too Long? How Pause Features After Requests Affect the Perceived Willingness of Affirmative Answers

Lea S. Kohtz, Oliver Niebuhr


A perception experiment involving 28 German listeners is presented. It investigates — for sequences of request, pause, and affirmative answer — the effect of pause duration on the answerer’s perceived willingness to comply with the request. Replicating earlier results on American English, perceived willingness was found to decrease with increasing pause duration, particularly above a “tolerance threshold” of 600 ms. Refining and qualifying this replicated result, the perception experiment showed additional effects of speaking-rate context and pause quality (silence vs. breathing vs. café noise) on perceived willingness judgments. The overall results picture is discussed with respect to the origin of the “tolerance threshold”, the status of breathing in speech, and the function of pauses in communication.


 DOI: 10.21437/Interspeech.2017-50

Cite as: Kohtz, L.S., Niebuhr, O. (2017) How Long is Too Long? How Pause Features After Requests Affect the Perceived Willingness of Affirmative Answers. Proc. Interspeech 2017, 3792-3796, DOI: 10.21437/Interspeech.2017-50.


@inproceedings{Kohtz2017,
  author={Lea S. Kohtz and Oliver Niebuhr},
  title={How Long is Too Long? How Pause Features After Requests Affect the Perceived Willingness of Affirmative Answers},
  year=2017,
  booktitle={Proc. Interspeech 2017},
  pages={3792--3796},
  doi={10.21437/Interspeech.2017-50},
  url={http://dx.doi.org/10.21437/Interspeech.2017-50}
}