2 thoughts on “Social and communicative biases jointly influence grammatical choices in learning

  1. This is cool work! You mentioned in one of the comments that you cared not as much about how the language is learned, but how it is used. So I was wondering if you were planning on looking at whether participants can unlearn some part of the language based on social biases (or alter it based on the social situation). For example, what if participants in the no-bias condition, after they learned learned the language had to talk to someone who was of a higher social status who they were trying to impress (the king of the alien world) who did not use case. Would they decrease the case-usage when compared to a condition where they had to talk to someone who was of the same/ lower social status?

    1. Thank you! And thank you for this great question! I should clarify that (though I might well have mistakenly given that impression!) it’s not so much that I care less about how the language is learned; it’s rather that I think the context of use is particularly important for this question about the role of social factors of this kind. And yes! I think that we would expect participants, under certain circumstances, to modulate their use of case based on their interlocutor. (Though I wouldn’t necessarily frame that as “unlearning”.) And this is indeed something I’m particularly interested in looking at. In fact I have some earlier work in which participants do adjust their use of an artificial language dependent on who they’re talking to:

      Roberts, G. (2010) An experimental study of social selection and frequency of interaction in linguistic diversity. Interaction Studies 11(1): 138–59.

      Sneller, B. and Roberts, G. (2018) Why some behaviors spread while others don’t: A laboratory simulation of dialect contact. Cognition 170C: 298–311.

      Wade, L. and Roberts, G. (2020) Linguistic convergence to observed vs. expected behavior in an alien-language map task. Cognitive Science 44(4): e12829.

      All of these can be downloaded from my webpage if you’re interested: https://www.drgarethroberts.com/publications.html

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