Can you handle this? The impact of object affordances on how co-speech gestures are produced

Ingrid Masson Carro, Martijn Goudbeek, Emiel Krahmer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Hand gestures are tightly coupled with speech and with action. Hence, recent accounts have emphasised the idea that simulations of spatio-motoric imagery underlie the production of co-speech gestures. In this study, we suggest that action simulations directly influence the iconic strategies used by speakers to translate aspects of their mental representations into gesture. Using a classic referential paradigm, we investigate how speakers respond gesturally to the affordances of objects, by comparing the effects of describing objects that afford action performance (such as tools) and those that do not, on gesture production. Our results suggest that affordances play a key role in determining the amount of representational (but not non-representational) gestures produced by speakers, and the techniques chosen to depict such objects. To our knowledge, this is the first study to systematically show a connection between object characteristics and representation techniques in spontaneous gesture production during the depiction of static referents.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)430-440
JournalLanguage, Cognition and Neuroscience
Issue number3
Early online date4 Nov 2015
Publication statusPublished - 15 Mar 2016


  • Gesture
  • action
  • representation techniques
  • simulation
  • affordances


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