The core idea of preference is that participants follow principles, often implicit, when they act and react in a variety of interactional situations. However, despite the common core, the concept of preference is used to describe different kinds of principles that operate in different domains and involve different orders and types of constraints. Preference principles play a part in the selection and interpretation of referring expressions, the production and interpretation of both initiating and responding actions, repair, turn-taking, and the progression through a sequence of actions. In addition, there are contexts in which participants orient to multiple preference principles. Sometimes, these multiple principles are in conflict with one another, and, in those circumstances, participants use systematic practices to manage the conflicts involved.
Given the variety of domains in which preference has been studied, the primary purpose of this chapter is to provide a rough map of how participants orient to such principles in some of those domains. The two aspects of preference on which scholarship generally has focused are (i) culturally shared preference principles, for example, “If possible, minimize stated rejections of requests,” and (ii) the empirically discoverable, orderly ways of speaking and acting that are produced in accord with those principles, for ...