I do research on the psychology of language, with the goal of understanding the mental steps that underlie our ability to speak and understand. People manage to successfully communicate, despite the fact that language is ambiguous, noisy, and by itself is insufficient to fully determine the speaker’s meaning. One reason we can do this is that listeners integrate linguistic input with background knowledge and assumptions about the addressee’s knowledge and intentions, and speakers make linguistic choices based on their own assumptions. Yet modeling other people’s thoughts is hard, and there are many open questions about the mechanisms by which use use social and contextual knowledge during speech production and comprehension.

Much of my research takes on these questions as they apply to reference. When does the speaker say ‘she’ vs. ‘the woman’? How clearly are the words pronounced? I examine these questions as they relate to processes of utterance planning, disfluency, and the ability for speakers to model the knowledge and perspective of their addressee. On the addressee’s side, how do they use the linguistic input and other cues to the speaker’s intentions?

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Selected Publications:

  • Arnold, J. E. & Watson, D. G. (in press). Synthesizing meaning and processing approaches to prosody: performance matters. Language and Cognitive Processes.
  • Arnold, J.E., Kahn, J. & Pancani, G. (2012). Audience Design Affects Acoustic Reduction Via Production Facilitation. Psychological Bulletin and Review, 19, 505-512. VIDEO
  • Arnold, J.E., Bennetto, L., & Diehl, J. J. (2009). Reference Production in Young Speakers with and without Autism: Effects of Discourse Status and Processing Constraints. Cognition, 110, 131-146.
  • Arnold, J.E., & Griffin, Z. (2007). The Effect of Additional Characters on Choice of Referring Expression: Everyone Competes. Journal of Memory and Language.
  • Arnold, J. E., Altmann, R., Fagnano, M., & Tanenhaus, M. K. (2004). The Old and Thee, uh, New. Psychological Science. 578-582.

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