Revisiting Preference Organization in Context: A Qualitative and Quantitative Examination of Responses to Information Seeking
Research on Language and Social Interaction
Quantitative studies applying conversation analysis to the study of the timing of answers to sequence-initiating actions expose anomalies in terms of what is known about preference organization. After briefly describing preference organization, anomalies in answer-timing research, and one explanation for such anomalies, this article presents one qualitative and one quantitative study of responses to one thickly contextualized action: positively formatted polar interrogatives implementing information seeking with a relatively ‘unknowing’ stance. Data include 249 questions gathered from videotapes of unstructured conversations. Qualitative results suggest that, rather than two basic answer types (i.e., affirmation/disaffirmation), there may be three: unconditional affirmation, unconditional disaffirmation, and conditional. Quantitative analyses of time to answer, eyeball shifting, and pre-beginning behavior suggest that unconditional disaffirmation may not be dispreferred relative to unconditional affirmation. Instead, conditional answers may be dispreferred. Results begin to reconcile anomalies and expand our current understanding of preference organization. Data are in American English.
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Robinson, J. D. (2020). Revisiting Preference Organization in Context: A Qualitative and Quantitative Examination of Responses to Information Seeking. Research on Language and Social Interaction, 1-26.