Can propositional biases modulate syntactic repair processes? Insights from preceding comprehension questions

Dempsey, J., & Brehm, L. (2020). Can propositional biases modulate syntactic repair processes? Insights from preceding comprehension questions. Journal of Cognitive Psychology, 32(5-6), 543-552. doi:10.1080/20445911.2020.1803884.
There is an ongoing debate about whether discourse biases can constrain sentence processing. Previous work has shown comprehension question accuracy to decrease for temporarily ambiguous sentences preceded by a context biasing towards an initial misinterpretation, suggesting a role of context for modulating comprehension. However, this creates limited modulation of reading times at the disambiguating word, suggesting initial syntactic processing may be unaffected by context [Christianson & Luke, 2011. Context strengthens initial misinterpretations of text. Scientific Studies of Reading, 15(2), 136–166]. The current experiments examine whether propositional and structural content from preceding comprehension questions can cue readers to expect certain structures in temporarily ambiguous garden-path sentences. The central finding is that syntactic repair processes remain unaffected while reading times in other regions are modulated by preceding questions. This suggests that reading strategies can be superficially influenced by preceding comprehension questions without impacting the fidelity of ultimate (mis)representations.
Supplementary material
pecp_a_1803884_sm1217.zip
Publication type
Journal article
Publication date
2020

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