Auditory-Visual Speech Processing (AVSP) 2009
University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK
Many studies have shown that people imitate and repeat each otherís behaviors. This holds for both verbal and nonverbal behavior. The production of co-speech hand gestures is a special case of nonverbal behavior, because it is believed to be tightly linked to verbal language production and because gestures can carry meaning in a way that is similar to verbal language. It has been shown that people reuse each otherís hand shapes for cospeech gestures. This study looks at the relevance of gesturesí meaning and their relation to speech for such mimicry to occur. In two studies we found that speakers mimicked iconic gestures that they had observed, but only if these gestures were consistent with the co-occurring speech. This is evidence that the mimicry of iconic gestures is an instance of convergence of linguistic behavior, also known as alignment, rather than a supercial imitation of physical behavior.
Index Terms: alignment, gesture, narration
Bibliographic reference. Mol, Lisette / Krahmer, Emiel / Swerts, Marc (2009): "Alignment in iconic gestures: does it make sense?", In AVSP-2009, 3-8.