ESR11 : Conversation coordination and mind-reading

PhD fellowship

A speech recording in the IISAS soundproof room.


ESR11 will investigate to what extent people need to attribute intention, belief and knowledge to their interlocutor (i.e. theory of mind, also called mindreading) to effectively coordinate and build common ground during a conversation. ESR11 will design scenarios in which humans interact with a) individuals with a theory-of-mind impairment such as schizophrenia, and b) an avatar. The ESR will test the use of overt markers of the attribution of belief and knowledge (e.g. feedback responses such as backchannels, prosody) in the development of conversational coordination and alignment. Combining clinical work with computational modeling offers a broad range of skills for ESR11 and potential for complementary findings regarding the role of intention, belief and knowledge in conversation coordination.

Expected results:

  • Methodological tools (scenarios, protocols) for studying theory of mind in the population with schizophrenia;
  • Procedures for a controlled deployment of conversational coordination features in an avatar;
  • Contribution to the debate regarding the involvement of controlled cognitive processes versus automatic processes in conversation coordination;
  • Knowledge regarding the potential of speech features in predicting pathologies affecting mindreading abilities.

Based in Bratislava, Slovakia

Full-time three-year contract, starting September 2020

PhD enrolment at: Slovak Technical University

Main supervisor’s institution: IISAS, Bratislava

Main supervisor: Prof Stefan Benus


  • Aix-Marseille University: training in clinical assessment, development of psycholinguistic experiments (5 months);
  • Furhat Robotics, Stockholm: training in the implementation of the avatar interaction platform focusing on alignment and behavior projection (5,5 months).

Co-supervisors’ institutions:

  • Aix-Marseille University, France
  • Furhat Robotics, Stockholm, Sweden

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