When Robot Gaze Helps Human Listeners: Attentional versus Intentional Account


Previous research has shown that listeners exploit speaker gaze to objects in a shared scene to ground referring expressions, not only during human-human interaction, but also in human-robot interaction. This paper examines whether the benefits of such referential gaze cues are best explained by an attentional account, where gaze simply serves to direct the listeners visual attention to an object immediately prior to mention, or an intentional account, where speaker gaze is rather interpreted as revealing the referential intentions of the speaker. Two eye-tracking studies within a human-robot interaction setting are presented which suggest that close temporal synchronization of speaker gaze and utterance is not necessary to facilitate comprehension, while the order of gaze cues with respect to order of mentioned references is. We interpret this as evidence in favor of an intentional account.

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