Cognitive Processing

, Volume 18, Issue 4, pp 543–553 | Cite as

Testing the online reading effects of emotionality on relative clause attachment

  • Javier García-Orza
  • José Manuel Gavilán
  • Isabel Fraga
  • Pilar Ferré
Short Communication


Previous research has shown the impact of the emotional dimension of nouns (i.e., valence and arousal) on the completion of relative clauses (RC) that are preceded by a double antecedent [e.g.,: Someone shot the servant (the first noun phrase, NP1) of the actress (the second noun phrase, NP2) who was on the balcony] (Fraga et al. in Q J Exp Psychol 65:1740–1759, 2012). The present study explored for the first time the role of emotional valence, specifically emotional positive nouns, on RC disambiguation in a self-paced reading experiment. Two types of NP1–NP2 relationships were compared: emotional–neutral vs. neutral–emotional. Results showed NP1 preferences in the emotional–neutral condition, whereas no preferences were found in the neutral–emotional condition. We conclude that during reading, the emotional properties of nouns play a role in disambiguation preferences: RC attachment preferences can be neutralized when emotional factors are manipulated. The results are discussed within the framework of current models of sentence processing and with reference to the controversial differences between comprehension and production.


Structural ambiguity Relative clause Emotional nouns Self-paced reading 



Funding was provided by Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad (ES) (Grant Nos. PSI2015-65116-P and PSI2015-63525-P).

Supplementary material

10339_2017_811_MOESM1_ESM.docx (18 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 17 kb)


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Copyright information

© Marta Olivetti Belardinelli and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Universidad de MálagaMálagaSpain
  2. 2.Department of Psychology and CRAMCUniversitat Rovira I VirgiliTarragonaSpain
  3. 3.Cognitive Processes & Behavior Research Group, Department of Social Psychology, Basic Psychology and MethodologyUniversidade de Santiago de CompostelaSantiagoSpain

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