An eye-tracking investigation into readers’ sensitivity to actual versus expected utility in the comprehension of conditionals.

Haigh, Matthew, Ferguson, Heather and Stewart, Andrew (2014) An eye-tracking investigation into readers’ sensitivity to actual versus expected utility in the comprehension of conditionals. The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 67 (1). pp. 166-185. ISSN 1747-0218

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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/17470218.2013.797475

Abstract

The successful comprehension of a utility conditional (i.e., an “if p, then q” statement where p and/or q is valued by one or more agents) requires the construction of a mental representation of the situation described by that conditional and integration of this representation with prior context. In an eye-tracking experiment, we examined the time course of integrating conditional utility information into the broader discourse model. Specifically, the experiment determined whether readers were sensitive, during rapid heuristic processing, to the congruency between the utility of the consequent clause of a conditional (positive or negative) and a reader's subjective expectations based on prior context. On a number of eye-tracking measures we found that readers were sensitive to conditional utility—conditionals for which the consequent utility mismatched the utility that would be anticipated on the basis of prior context resulted in processing disruption. Crucially, this sensitivity emerged on measures that are accepted to indicate early processing within the language comprehension system and suggests that the evaluation of a conditional's utility informs the early stages of conditional processing.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: This is an Author's Accepted Manuscript of an article published in The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, January 2014, copyright Taylor & Francis, available online at: http://www.tandfonline.com/10.1080/17470218.2013.797475
Uncontrolled Keywords: conditionals, discourse processing, eye movements, reading
Subjects: C800 Psychology
Department: Faculties > Health and Life Sciences > School of Life Sciences > Psychology
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Depositing User: Matthew Haigh
Date Deposited: 17 Jan 2014 16:13
Last Modified: 11 May 2017 03:46
URI: http://nrl.northumbria.ac.uk/id/eprint/15183

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