Communicative Efficiency and Miscommunication: The Costs and Benefits of Variable Language Production


Although negotiating joint action through dialogue can be difficult, dyads may be able to improve collaborative performance by managing communicative efficiency in language production, balancing effort (words per turn) with output (turn-level success). Comparing dyads with high, medium, and low levels of accuracy in communication, growth curve modeling revealed a negative relationship between success and excessive variability in levels of efficiency. Dyads performed better by maintaining moderately fluid efficiency (seen in high-success dyads) or minimizing efficiency variability (seen in medium-success dyads), rather than scrambling for efficiency only as needed (seen in low-success dyads). Balancing efficiency variability in language production may create flexible but relatively stable interaction structures, laying the groundwork for successful communication.

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