The effect of beat gestures on the intelligibility, comprehensibility and persuasiveness of a native Spanish speaker according to native and non-native Spanish listeners.

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The current study aims to explore the effect of gestures in a communicative setting on language perception. Specifically, native and non-native Spanish speakers exposed to native Spanish speech performed transcription accuracy task (intelligibility), rated how easy they understood the speaker (comprehensibility) and how persuasive they consider the speaker’s production of the fragments (persuasiveness). The effect of gestures was investigated by exposing some of the participants to gesture-accompanied videos, whereas the others were exposed to a not gesticulating speaker. Additionally, the relationship between intelligibility, comprehensibility and persuasiveness was investigated. The experiment had a 2x2 between-subject design and was filled in by a total of 213 participants, who were in different nationality (Spanish or Dutch) and presence of gesture (present or absent) conditions. The videos presented to the participants only differed in the presence or absence of gestures and contained Spanish sentences that either had a verb with a written accent or without. To analyze the data Spearman’s Rho correlation and a MANOVA analysis were conducted. The results showed a significant positive correlation between intelligibility, comprehensibility and persuasiveness. The nationality of the participants affected the intelligibility scores they obtained and the comprehensibility and persuasiveness ratings they gave. Namely, native Spanish participants scored higher on the transcription accuracy task and gave higher comprehensibility and persuasiveness ratings. The presence of beat gestures affected positively the persuasiveness ratings, negatively the comprehensibility ratings and did not show an effect on the intelligibility scores.
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