Co-thought and Co-speech Gestures Are Generated by the Same Action Generation Process

Mingyuan Chu, Sotaro Kita

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Citations (Scopus)
53 Downloads (Pure)


People spontaneously gesture when they speak (co-speech gestures) and when they solve problems silently (co-thought gestures). In this study, we first explored the relationship between these 2 types of gestures and found that individuals who produced co-thought gestures more frequently also produced co-speech gestures more frequently (Experiments 1 and 2). This suggests that the 2 types of gestures are generated from the same process. We then investigated whether both types of gestures can be generated from the representational use of the action generation process that also generates purposeful actions that have a direct physical impact on the world, such as manipulating an object or locomotion (the action generation hypothesis). To this end, we examined the effect of object affordances on the production of both types of gestures (Experiments 3 and 4). We found that individuals produced co-thought and co-speech gestures more often when the stimulus objects afforded action (objects with a smooth surface) than when they did not (objects with a spiky surface). These results support the action generation hypothesis for representational gestures. However, our findings are incompatible with the hypothesis that co-speech representational gestures are solely generated from the speech production process (the speech production hypothesis). (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2015 APA, all rights reserved)
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)257-270
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory and Cognition
Issue number2
Early online date3 Aug 2015
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2016

Bibliographical note

We thank Lucy Foulkes, Rachel Furness, Valentina Lee, and Zeshu Shao
for their help with data collection; Paraskevi Argyriou for her help with
reliability checks of gesture coding; and Agnieszka Konopka and Josje
Praamstra for their help with proofreading this article.


  • co-speech gesture
  • co-thought gesture
  • action generation
  • speech production
  • affordance


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