Measuring interruption: Syntactic and contextual methods of coding conversation
In this paper we focus on a long-standing debate surrounding the measurement of interruptions in conversational behavior. This debate has implications for conversational analysts interested in turn-taking structures, researchers interested in close relationships who interpret them as an exercise of power, and group processes researchers studying status-organizing structures. We explore two different measurements of interruptions: (1) a syntactic measurement that operationalizes an interruption as simultaneous talk initiated more than two syllables from the end of a current speaker's sentence, and (2) a more contextual measurement that takes into account situational factors such as the current speaker's intentions and the content of what both speakers say when judging whether a speech act is an interruption. We coded transcripts from 86 task group discussions using West and Zimmerman's (1983) syntactic criteria and Murray's (1985) context-sensitive method for identifying interruptions. Factor analyses found a one-factor solution, an indication that both measurements capture the same underlying construct. Confirmatory factor analyses identified more subtle variations, however, suggesting that gender and subcultural differences affect how coders construe interruptions.
Okamoto, DG; Rashotfe, LS; Smith-Lovin, L
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