Restraining and encouraging the use of hand gestures: Effects on speech

Alice Cravotta, Maria Grazia Busà, Pilar Prieto


Previous studies have investigated the effects of the inability to make hand gestures on speakers’ fluency; however, the question of whether encouraging speakers to gesture affects their fluency has received little attention. This study investigates the effect of restraining (Experiment 1) and encouraging (Experiment 2) hand gestures on the following correlates of speech: speech discourse length (number of words and discourse length in seconds), disfluencies (filled pauses, self-corrections, repetitions, insertions, interruptions, silent pauses), and acoustic properties (speech rate, measures of intensity and pitch). In two experiments, 10 native speakers of Italian took part in a narration task where they were asked to describe comic strips. Each experiment compared two conditions. In Experiment 1, subjects first received no instructions as to how to behave when narrating. Then they were told to sit on their hands while speaking. In Experiment 2, subjects first received no instructions and were then actively encouraged to use hand gestures. The results showed that restraining gestures leads to quieter and slower paced speech, while encouraging gestures triggers longer speech discourse, faster speech rate and more fluent and louder speech. Thus, both restraining and encouraging hand gestures seem to clearly affect prosodic properties of speech, particularly speech fluency.


 DOI: 10.21437/SpeechProsody.2018-42

Cite as: Cravotta, A., Busà, M.G., Prieto, P. (2018) Restraining and encouraging the use of hand gestures: Effects on speech. Proc. 9th International Conference on Speech Prosody 2018, 206-210, DOI: 10.21437/SpeechProsody.2018-42.


@inproceedings{Cravotta2018,
  author={Alice Cravotta and Maria Grazia Busà and Pilar Prieto},
  title={Restraining and encouraging the use of hand gestures: Effects on speech},
  year=2018,
  booktitle={Proc. 9th International Conference on Speech Prosody 2018},
  pages={206--210},
  doi={10.21437/SpeechProsody.2018-42},
  url={http://dx.doi.org/10.21437/SpeechProsody.2018-42}
}