Addressee Backchannels Can Bias Third-Party Memory and Judgment


Information about audiences influence how speakers produce messages, biasing speakers’ own later recall (Higgins & Rholes, 1978), contingent on the creation of a shared reality between interlocutors (Echterhoff, Higgins, & Rholes, 2005). We tested for a similar effect within third party dialogue comprehension, in which overheard addressees displayed evaluative backchannel responses. Participants observed an interaction containing valence- ambiguous personal information, and were later asked to recall the information and make related judgments. Addressees either responded positively or negatively to the speaker’s description. Across three experiments, we found that addressee responses biased recall when the responses were cues to a shared perspective, either due to the collaborative construction of the talk or prior shared knowledge between speaker and addressee. Addressee responses as cues to the addressee’s stance alone did not bias overhearer recall. These findings support the argument that perception of a shared reality is a central component of dialogue comprehension.

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