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The role of gesture in memory and social communication

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This study asked whether: (1) adults process representational gesture and (2) gesture is remembered over time. Forty-five college students (ages 22–38) were each randomly assigned to watch a set of Speech Only and Speech + Gesture video stimuli (containing statements that were extracted from social conversation) either in an immediate or delayed condition. After watching the videotape, participants were asked to write recollections of the video stimuli either immediately after watching the videotape or thirty minutes later. We found that gesture was processed along with speech and that unlike speech, it was less likely to deteriorate over time. Moreover, speech stimuli that were accompanied by gesture were significantly more likely to be recalled than speech stimuli occurring without gesture. These results suggest that gesture is processed by adults along with speech during communication and that gesture might have a different status in memory than speech.

Keywords: communication; gesture; memory

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Northeastern Illinois University 2: National-Louis University 3: College of Lake County

Publication date: January 1, 2007

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