So I Was, 'Like', Totally Buggin’ – Evidence for the Role of Attention on Entrainment from Discourse Particles

Rachel Lynn Williams, University of Texas at El Paso


In this study, we investigated the role of attention for entrainment during production and comprehension using the discourse particle like. We tested two main hypotheses – that entrainment to discourse particles, even if relatively implicit, requires some attentional resources, versus that it requires little (if any) attention. In two experiments, participants read a short story and retold it (baseline retelling phase), then read another short story and listened to a recording of it (priming phase), and then read and retold a third story (target retelling phase). In Experiment 1, half of the participants simultaneously navigated a busy pedestrian zone in virtual reality (VR) during their baseline retelling phase and target retelling phase (high attentional load); the other half sat still and did not move in the same VR location (light attentional load). In Experiment 2, participants were placed in VR only while listening to the recording during the priming phase. We analyzed the production rate of the discourse particle like in the target retelling phase relative to the baseline retelling phase, as a function of presence of likes in the priming phase and amount of attention load. The present study demonstrated that entrainment to the discourse particle like can be elicited in laboratory conditions. However, we did not find any support for attentional involvement in the entrainment to like.

Subject Area

Psychology|Cognitive psychology

Recommended Citation

Williams, Rachel Lynn, "So I Was, 'Like', Totally Buggin’ – Evidence for the Role of Attention on Entrainment from Discourse Particles" (2022). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI29211382.