Journal of Psycholinguistic Research

, Volume 46, Issue 3, pp 525–550

The Interplay of Implicit Causality, Structural Heuristics, and Anaphor Type in Ambiguous Pronoun Resolution

  • Juhani Järvikivi
  • Roger P. G. van Gompel
  • Jukka Hyönä

DOI: 10.1007/s10936-016-9451-1

Cite this article as:
Järvikivi, J., van Gompel, R.P.G. & Hyönä, J. J Psycholinguist Res (2017) 46: 525. doi:10.1007/s10936-016-9451-1


Two visual-world eye-tracking experiments investigating pronoun resolution in Finnish examined the time course of implicit causality information relative to both grammatical role and order-of-mention information. Experiment 1 showed an effect of implicit causality that appeared at the same time as the first-mention preference. Furthermore, when we counterbalanced the semantic roles of the verbs, we found no effect of grammatical role, suggesting the standard observed subject preference has a large semantic component. Experiment 2 showed that both the personal pronoun hän and the demonstrative tämä preferred the antecedent consistent with the implicit causality bias; tämä was not interpreted as referring to the semantically non-prominent entity. In contrast, structural prominence affected hän and tämä differently: we found a first-mention preference for hän, but a second-mention preference for tämä. The results suggest that semantic implicit causality information has an immediate effect on pronoun resolution and its use is not delayed relative to order-of-mention information. Furthermore, they show that order-of-mention differentially affects different types of anaphoric expressions, but semantic information has the same effect.


Implicit causality Visual-world eye-tracking Pronoun resolution Comprehension Finnish 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Juhani Järvikivi
    • 1
  • Roger P. G. van Gompel
    • 2
  • Jukka Hyönä
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of LinguisticsUniversity of AlbertaEdmontonCanada
  2. 2.School of PsychologyUniversity of DundeeDundeeScotland
  3. 3.Department of PsychologyUniversity of TurkuTurkuFinland

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