Resilient features of re-emerging dyadic communication systems in an interactive virtual environment

Ulubay, Murat
This study mainly focuses on the emergence and utilization of communication systems in the context of joint action where collective cognitive activity is required. Dyads are given an instant messaging medium of communication where only a limited number of characters and symbols can be used for information exchange in order to collaborate on common tasks of finding objects, in a network-based interactive virtual environment (ActiveWorlds), a 3D, multi-agent, virtual reality platform. The restrictions on communication and the requirement of collaboration facilitated the creation of a lexical inventory and a minimalistic communication system, a compressed version of dyads’ shared Natural Languages (NLs). Across eight experimental sessions, two manipulations are made in order to study their effects on parameters on 4 levels of analysis: (1) Quantitative, (2) Syntactic Complexity, (3) Lexical Category and (4) Speech Act Category. The two interventions are (1) increasing the number of targets from one to two after the first three experiments, and (2) administering a two months break between the 6th and 7th-8th experiments. Increased number of target objects influenced the quantitative parameters that are related to the amount of communication as well as the use scores of lexical, syntactic, and speech act categories; however, the use ratios of several parameters were resilient under this manipulation and rather showed different trends of change characterizing the development of the system towards a more mature state in accordance with the demands of the task structure. The opposing trends of increasing use ratio of Assertive and decreasing use ratio of Directive Speech Acts and decreasing use ratios of the Type/Token Number of Lexical Items in a session, the Number of New Lexical Items in a session and increasing ratio of Turn Success are also characteristics of this maturation. The break administered between the 6th and 7th experimental session did not cause any decay in the acquired skills of using the emerged communication system. The previously negotiated strategies and acquired skills of communication as well as the trends of the use ratios of parameters were resilient. The qualitative analysis of the developing communication system revealed several strategies, including compression of NL words into new lexical items, exploiting the redundancy of characters of written words, and iconicity and indexicality of given symbols. The main drivers of the development of the new communication system appeared to be the processes of integration of communicative with behavioral action. The cognitive capacities enabling this integration and the comprehension of the utterances in the new system is explained by the Cognitive and Communicative Principles of Relevance that are attributed to a comprehension sub-module of a mind-reading module of the human cognitive system.


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Citation Formats
M. Ulubay, “Resilient features of re-emerging dyadic communication systems in an interactive virtual environment,” Ph.D. - Doctoral Program, Middle East Technical University, 2013.