On the role of object knowledge in reference production: Effects of color typicality on content determination

H.G.W. Westerbeek, R.M.F. Koolen, A.A. Maes

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionScientificpeer-review

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In two language production experiments, we investigated whether stored knowledge of the typical color of objects affects spoken reference. In experiment 1, human speakers referred to objects with colors ranging from very typical (e.g., red tomato) to very atypical (e.g., blue pepper). The probability that speakers redundantly include color in their descriptions was almost linearly predicted by the degree of atypicality. In experiment 2, we extended this finding to references to objects for which color is inherently a less salient property in stored knowledge (i.e., objects with a highly characteristic shape, making color less important for recognition). Following these findings that typicality affects reference production, we conclude that speakers utilize stored knowledge about everyday objects they refer to. We discuss the implications of our findings for artificial agents that generate natural language, arguing that computational models fall short in captur- ing general knowledge about typical properties of objects.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCogSci 2014
Subtitle of host publicationCognitive Science Meets Artificial Intelligence: Human and Artificial Agents in Interactive Contexts
EditorsPaul Bello, Marcello Guarini, Marjorie McShane, Brian Scassellati
Publication statusPublished - 2014
EventCogSci 2014 - Québec City, Canada
Duration: 23 Jul 201426 Jul 2014


ConferenceCogSci 2014
CityQuébec City


  • reference production
  • color typicality
  • content determination
  • visual saliency
  • AI models of reference production


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