Purpose: The purpose of the current study was to evaluate the social and cognitive underpinnings of miscommunication during an interactive listening task. Method: An eye and computer mouse-tracking visualworld paradigm was used to investigate how a listener’s cognitive effort (local and global) and decision-making processes were affected by a speaker’s use of ambiguity that led to a miscommunication. Results: Experiments 1 and 2 found that an environmental cue that made a miscommunication more or less salient impacted listener language processing effort (eye-tracking). Experiment 2 also indicated that listeners may develop different processing heuristics dependent upon the speaker’s use of ambiguity that led to a miscommunication, exerting a significant impact on cognition and decision making. We also found that perspective-taking effort and decision-making complexity metrics (computer mouse tracking) predict language processing effort, indicating that instances of miscommunication produced cognitive consequences of indecision, thinking, and cognitive pull. Conclusion: Together, these results indicate that listeners behave both reciprocally and adaptively when miscommunications occur, but the way they respond is largely dependent upon the type of ambiguity and how often it is produced by the speaker.
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