The Role of Free and Restricted Hand Gestures in Definitions and Word Retrieval
Fortuna, Lisa S.
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There are currently two opposing views of the primary function of gestures. One view is that gestures serve a communicative purpose and help the listener understand the speaker. The other view is that gestures are related to speech and aid the speaker in retrieving words and concepts. The present study intended to show that the latter view is the primary function of gestures. Twenty-four participants were assigned to either a restricted or an unrestricted group in which their hands were restrained or free. They were videotaped while giving 41 word definitions. It was hypothesized that participants in the unrestricted group would gesture more often, would speak sooner and faster, and would recall fewer words than participants in the restricted group. Results indicated no significant differences except for words of spatial and non-spatial content. Limitations and modifications are considered for future research.