I use diverse research methods, including computational modeling, analysis of naturalistic behavior, and human experimentation. I use these techniques to investigate a diverse range of language-related phenomena with students and collaborators: conversation, thinking in language, sentence processing, word categorization, and even deception. For example, with Daniel Richardson, I have studied how people become coupled together during linguistic interaction (such as in their eye movements). I have also investigated how complex thinking unfolds in time by tracking the dynamics of people's arm movements (by using, for example, the Nintendo Wii Remote). My work is motivated by the ideas and tools used in the study of complex dynamical systems. I have recently been interested in theoretical issues tying together dynamics with classical theories of cognition in a more pragmatic, plural approach to cognitive science (check out this special issue). Work I've been involved in has been reviewed by news outlets and blogs a few times. Here are some basic descriptions of our research from some media coverage.
Recent papers that may be of general interest full list of publications
∗ Automated analysis of speech/body signals ⇓more
In a project led by graduate student Alexandra Paxton, we have developed simplified, but automated, analyses for extracting and comparing the speech and body signals from two people who are communicating. This has allowed us to show that two people who like each other will tend, on average, to move their bodies together in synchrony. In addition, we have shown that, in a conversation that becomes argumentative, synchrony breaks down. For some details, check this out: Paxton, A., & Dale, R. (in press). Frame-differencing methods for measuring bodily synchrony in conversation. Behavior Research Methods.∗ What makes languages differ? ⇓more
With collaborator Gary Lupyan, we have carried out a new computational simulation that explores the possibility that the properties of a social group (such as population) may impact the kind of language that group speaks. For example, in a very small group infants mostly learn the language; whereas in a huge social group (such as modern societies) many adults will be second-language learners of that group's language. Because group size will impact who is learning, this may cascade over historical time to emphasize different aspects of language. These ideas have also been discussed in many places by anthropologists and linguists, as we review in a related paper here. See: Dale, R., & Lupyan, G. (in press). Understanding the origins of morphological diversity: the linguistic niche hypothesis. Advances in Complex Systems.∗ Despite effort, we adapt perspectives ⇓more
With graduate student Nick Duran and colleague Roger Kreuz, we used a simplified online perspective-taking task to show that people will adapt perspectives in social situations even if it is significantly cognitively difficult to do so. Moreover, people process subtle information such as how much their interaction partners knows, and whether there is really someone on the "other line," in order to guide that perspective-taking. See: Duran, N. D., Dale, R., & Kreuz, R. J. (2011). Listeners invest in an assumed other's perspective despite cognitive cost. Cognition, 121, 22-40.∗ Hand in motion reveals mind in motion ⇓more
Jon Freeman, Thomas Farmer, and I have just published a review of research that shows tracking the movements of your hand (such as through the mouse) can reveal your thought processes (we include a description of the awesome Duran et al., 2010, mentioned below). See: Freeman, J. B., Dale, R., & Farmer, T. A. (2011). Hand in motion reveals mind in motion. Frontiers in Cognition, 2, article 59.∗ Does sarcasm breed sarcasm? ⇓more
With graduate students Jennifer Roche and Gina Caucci, we asked 'Will people be more ironic in their language if they perceive an interaction partner as using irony?' In this paper, we find this is so. A collateral finding is that folks do not do so immediately: It is more natural to wait a turn or two before you issue your own sarcastic remark. See: Roche, J., Dale, R., & Caucci, G. (in press). Doubling up on double meanings: pragmatic alignment. Language and Cognitive Processes.∗ Using the Wii Remote to detect deception ⇓more
With graduate student Nick Duran and colleague Danielle McNamara, we tested whether people's arm movements (captured with the Wiimote) reveal when they are giving false responses. We find that the subtle dynamics of their arm movements can indeed signature these (experimental) deceptive acts. See: Duran, N. D., Dale, R., & McNamara, D. (2010). The action dynamics of overcoming the truth. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 17, 486-491. This was reviewed by our university's newspaper, and for a time had a run at reddit's hot list!∗ A critique of radical embodied cognitive science ⇓more
I recently published a detailed review and critique of Tony Chemero's great book Radical Embodied Cognitive Science in the Journal of Mind and Behavior. The review identifies both strengths and weaknesses of this theoretical framework, and briefly argues for a theoretical pluralism that collaborators and I have urged elsewhere. See: Dale, R. (2010). Critique of Radical Embodied Cognitive Science. Journal of Mind and Behavior, 31, 127-140.
Stuff I support or am supported by... ⇓more