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Psychol Sci. 2007 May;18(5):407-13.

The art of conversation is coordination: common ground and the coupling of eye movements during dialogue.

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  • 1University of California, Santa Cruz, CA 95064, USA.


When two people discuss something they can see in front of them, what is the relationship between their eye movements? We recorded the gaze of pairs of subjects engaged in live, spontaneous dialogue. Cross-recurrence analysis revealed a coupling between the eye movements of the two conversants. In the first study, we found their eye movements were coupled across several seconds. In the second, we found that this coupling increased if they both heard the same background information prior to their conversation. These results provide a direct quantification of joint attention during unscripted conversation and show that it is influenced by knowledge in the common ground.

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