About the Communication and Experimental Pragmatics Lab

We are interested in how people use language and other symbols (e.g.,) to successfully (and unsuccessfully) communicate with one another.  We want to know, for example, how an utterance like “I’d like you to do us a favor though” can be used, in certain contexts, as a demand. And how the reply “It’s hard to give a good presentation” sometimes can be interpreted as a negative opinion. Further, we would like to know how people comprehend words like “some” and “possible” and “often,” words that do not have fixed referents and can be interpreted differently depending on the context.

We study multiple facets of communication and we use a variety of experimental and non-experimental techniques in our research.  Currently we are focusing on miscommunication and attempting to identify factors (e.g., individual differences, cultural variability, power differentials) related to its occurrence.

Because communication is so critical to successful human interaction, there are many implications of this research, a point we make in non-academic blog posts, e.g., http://spsp.org/news-center/blog/holtgraves-message-interpretation and editorials, e.g., https://www.futuremedicine.com/doi/pdf/10.2217/nmt-2016-0042