Discourse compression of elderly adults in a dyadic context

Lauren Saling, Kathryn Woodcock, Michael M Saling

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


OBJECTIVES: Elderly adults demonstrate a reduced ability to produce increasingly concise and coherent discourse with repetition when compared with their younger counterparts. We explored whether discourse efficiency and quality would increase with story retelling in a dialogic context. METHOD: Participants were 30 elderly adults aged between 65 and 91 years (M = 77.03, SD = 9.214). Fifteen participants were paired with an elderly adult (EE group) and 15 with a young adult (EY group). Within their dyads, participants constructed a story from a series of cartoon frames. Variables analyzed were narrative duration, word count, fluency, and cohesion. Narratives were repeated 3 times. RESULTS: A compression index was calculated for each variable. For fluency and duration, the compression index for the EY group was significantly higher than for the EE group. While the EY group produced more coherent discourse with repetition, discourse cohesion did not improve with retelling for the EE group. DISCUSSION: A young conversational partner offers a model of consistently compressed and coherent discourse for their older interlocutor. Producing discourse in tandem with a younger adult may thus support older adults' use of social platforms (such as SMS or Facebook) that require a highly compressed message.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)256-261
Number of pages6
JournalJournals of Gerontology - Series B Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences
Issue number2
Early online date2014
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2015


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