Can propositional biases modulate syntactic repair processes? Insights from preceding comprehension questions
Dempsey, J., & Brehm, L.
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.