How long is too long? How pause features after requests affect the perceived willingness of affirmative answers

Publication: Research - peer-reviewConference article


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A perception experiment involving 28 German listeners is
presented. It investigates – for sequences of request, pause,
and affirmative answer – the effect of pause duration on the
answerer's perceived willingness to comply with the request.
Replicating earlier results on American English, perceived
willingness was found to decrease with increasing pause
duration, particularly above a "tolerance threshold" of 600 ms.
Refining and qualifying this replicated result, the perception
experiment showed additional effects of speaking-rate context
and pause quality (silence vs. breathing vs. café noise) on perceived
willingness judgments. The overall results picture is
discussed with respect to the origin of the "tolerance
threshold", the status of breathing in speech, and the function
of pauses in communication.
Original languageEnglish
Article number50
JournalProceedings of 18th International Interspeech Conference
Pages (from-to)3792-3796
Number of pages5
StatePublished - 21 Aug 2017


  • Pause, silence, duration, breathing, noise, gap