Adaptation and interaction in collaborative problem solving

Much problem-solving research has investigated if and why two heads are better than one, but typically posits that it is exposure to the ideas provided by another person's attempted solutions that provide process gain, without investigating what the interaction itself contributes to joint problem solving. Using an online version of the Alternative Uses Task, we compare situations in which people are passively exposed to what is said in a dialogue with situations in which people are actively engaged in the dialogue, thus varying the interactivity independently of the informational content that participants were exposed to. Interactivity changes the nature of responses -- interactive participants are more likely to build on a previous turn in the conversation, despite receiving identical information. Interactive participants don't produce more complex ideas, except when a turn is linked to a previous turn; following leads to more elaboration -- but only if there is genuine interactivity. These results indicate that participants actively adapt to their conversational partner, and this influences their responses in joint problem solving tasks -- in a way that is not explained by the informational content.
Research areas:
Type of Publication:
In Proceedings
Book title:
14th International Pragmatics Conference
Antwerp, Belgium
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