In one recent episode of Hidden Brain podcast, they talk about a pattern in conversation called "Switchtracking". It references to the the "Thanks for the Feedback" book by Douglas Stone and Sheila Heen.

In general it happens when you get a feedback unrelated to the topic you are concerned in a conversation. Here is how it is defined at respective NPR post:

Switchtracking, as defined by author Sheila Heen, is when "someone gives you feedback, and your reaction to that feedback changes the subject."

I'm wondering if there is any academic background supporting this phenomenon (There is neither references section in the book nor podcast page). Is it called something else in academia? I could not find any references to some academic publications in the fields of CogSci, management, or behavioral economics.

  • $\begingroup$ You see, I tried hard to find autoritative reference, but without success. $\endgroup$ – user13225 Jul 20 '16 at 20:21
  • $\begingroup$ @FlaviadePaivaBritesMartins Thank you, alignment from cognitive linguistics seems somehow fit here, since they do not separate conceptual domain from language domain in cogling. $\endgroup$ – Morty Aug 11 '16 at 5:37
  • $\begingroup$ There is also a book "Thanks for the Feedback" that seems to be the source of switch-tracking idea (by the same authors). $\endgroup$ – Morty Aug 11 '16 at 5:38

Switch-tracking seems very similar to the "Dialogue Alignment" in Psycholinguistics and some other fields of Cognitive Science. For a successful conversation interlocutors need to develop similar representations. Switch-tracking, however seems an abstract conceptual domain problem, but dialogue alignment mostly investigates issues in a more concrete linguistic domain.

Here are some related publications:

  • Pickering, M. J., & Garrod, S. (2006). Alignment as the basis for successful communication. Research on Language and Computation, 4(2-3), 203-228.

  • Garrod, S., & Pickering, M. J. (2007). Alignment in dialogue. The Oxford handbook of psycholinguistics, 443-451.

  • Brennan, S. E., Galati, A., & Kuhlen, A. K. (2010). Two minds, one dialog: Coordinating speaking and understanding. Psychology of Learning and Motivation, 53, 301-344.

And this one investigates bilingual alignments:

  • Purmohammad, M. (2015). Linguistic alignment in L1–L2 dialogue. Language and Dialogue, 5(2), 312-333.

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