How long is too long? How pause features after requests affect the perceived willingness of affirmative answers

Lea Susan Kohtz, Oliver Niebuhr

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A perception experiment involving 28 German listeners is
presented. It investigates – for sequences of request, pause,
and affirmative answer – the effect of pause duration on the
answerer's perceived willingness to comply with the request.
Replicating earlier results on American English, perceived
willingness was found to decrease with increasing pause
duration, particularly above a "tolerance threshold" of 600 ms.
Refining and qualifying this replicated result, the perception
experiment showed additional effects of speaking-rate context
and pause quality (silence vs. breathing vs. café noise) on perceived
willingness judgments. The overall results picture is
discussed with respect to the origin of the "tolerance
threshold", the status of breathing in speech, and the function
of pauses in communication.
Original languageEnglish
Article number50
Book seriesProceedings of the International Conference on Spoken Language Processing
Pages (from-to)3792-3796
Publication statusPublished - 2017
EventInterspeech 2017 - Stockholm, Sweden
Duration: 20. Aug 201724. Aug 2017


ConferenceInterspeech 2017


  • Pause
  • silence
  • duration
  • breathing
  • noise
  • gap

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