Robert M. Krauss
General Area of Research
Human Communication, gesture and speech production, the vocal embodiment of identity
My area is the social psychology of language and communication. Recent work in the Human Communication Lab has focused on (1) the way that speech and speech-related behaviors (e.g., gesture) embody internal representations about the speaker, the situation and the speaker-addressee relationship; (2) the functions these embodied representations serve in social life.
We have found that gestures participate in speech production by aiding in the retrieval of word forms from the mental lexicon: speakers prevented from gesturing speak less fluently. Gesturing also seems to be involved with spatial memory: More gestures accompany speakers' descriptions of remembered visual objects (especially when the objects were difficult to remember), as compared to their descriptions when the objects were visually present. More recent research has studied the non-semantic information contained in speech. We have found that hearers can estimate such attributes as age, height, and weight nearly as well from speakers' voices as they can from photos. Current work explores how phonetic properties of a speaker's voice can influence the impact of a message's semantic content, and how interactants' speech converges phonetically over the course of their interaction.