Plausibility and recovery from garden paths: An eye-tracking study

M J Pickering, M J Traxler

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Abstract

Three eye-tracking experiments investigated plausibility effects on recovery from misanalysis in sentence comprehension. On the initially favored analysis, a noun phrase served as the object of the preceding verb. On the ultimately correct analysis, it served as the subject of a main clause in Experiments 1 and 3 and of a complement clause in Experiment 2. If the object analysis was implausible, disruption occurred during processing of the noun phrase. If it was plausible, disruption occurred after disambiguation. In Experiment 3, discourse context affected plausibility of the initial analysis and subsequent reanalysis. The authors argue that readers performed substantial semantic processing on the initial analysis and committed strongly when it was plausible. Experiment 3 showed that these effects were not due to selectional restrictions or word co-occurrences and that the interpretation of the target sentence was not computed in isolation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)940-961
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition
Volume24
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jul 1998

Keywords

  • SYNTACTIC AMBIGUITY RESOLUTION
  • UNBOUNDED DEPENDENCIES
  • SEMANTIC INFLUENCES
  • ARGUMENT STRUCTURE
  • CONTEXT
  • SENTENCES
  • MOVEMENTS
  • DISCOURSE
  • COMPREHENSION
  • EXPECTATIONS

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