Edited by Laura Gurzynski-Weiss
[Language Learning & Language Teaching 53] 2020
► pp. 190–208
Chapter 8. Complexity Theory
Relational systems in interaction and in interlocutor differences in second language development
Complexity theorists are interested in understanding the relations among components in a complex system and how individual differences in the components affect their relationship to other components. Specific to our interests here, the ability of speakers to adjust their speech depends on the relationship with the person with whom they interact. Further, all interactions involve mutual influence (Ricca, 2012). Larsen-Freeman and Cameron (2008a) call this bidirectional influence “co-adaptation.”
Existing research on interaction is briefly surveyed before turning to the view of interlocutor interaction that Complexity Theory inspires. Before concluding, research attesting to the effect of interlocutor individual differences (age, experience, sex, status, similarity, identity, first language) is reviewed. Finally, four considerations for enhancing future research on interlocutor individual differences are proposed.