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2.8 Social grounding

Social grounding is the mechanism by which an individual attempts to maintain the belief that his partner has understood what he meant, at least to an extent which is sufficient to carry out the task at hand [19]. This mechanism involves that the speaker monitors the listener's understanding and, in case of misunderstanding, attempts to repair communication. Verbal and non-verbal cues are important to detect misunderstanding. Repairs involve disambiguating dialogues, pointing to shared souvenirs, to visible objects, drawing a schema, and so forth. Through this mechanism, both partners progressively build a shared understanding of the problem.

For Clark and Brennan [19] the cost of social grounding changes with the medium. They decompose this cost into eleven factors, among which two factors appear to us as especially relevant here:

These three last mechanisms illustrate a new theoretical perspective inherited from the situated cognition approach [19], and refered to as 'socially shared cognition'. This theory views a group as a single cognitive system distributed over individuals. It does not focus on individual contributions, but on the shared representation built by the group. Within this perspective, the main reason why collaborative learning is efficient is that members learn to think interactively: thinking is not only manipulating mental objects, but also interactions with others and with the environment.

ICCAI 95 article - 08 FEB 95
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