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.
This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Price includes VAT for USA
Subscribe to journal
Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.
This is the net price. Taxes to be calculated in checkout.
Ariel, M. (1990). Accessing noun-phrase antecedents. London & New York: Routledge.
Arnold, J. E., Eisenband, J. G., Brown-Schmidt, S., & Trueswell, J. C. (2000). The rapid use of gender information: Evidence of the time course of pronoun resolution from eye-tracking. Cognition, 76, B13–B26.
Boersma, P. (2001). PRAAT, a system for doing phonetics by computer. Glot International, 5, 341–345.
Butterworth, B., & Goldman-Eisler, F. (1979). Recent studies on cognitive rhythm. In A. W. Siegman & S. Feldstein (Eds.), Of Speech and Time: Temporal Speech Patterns in Interpersonal Contexts (pp. 211–224). Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
Cozijn, R., Commandeur, E., Vonk, W., & Noordman, L. G. (2011). The time course of the use of implicit causality information in the processing of pronouns: A visual world paradigm study. Journal of Memory and Language, 64(4), 381–403.
Crawley, R., Stevenson, R., & Kleinman, D. (1990). The use of heuristic strategies in the interpretation of pronouns. Journal of Psycholinguistic Research, 4, 245–264.
Ferreira, F., & Clifton, C. E. (1986). The independence of syntactic processing. Journal of Memory and Language, 25, 348–368.
Frank, S. L., Koppen, M., Noordman, L. G. M., & Vonk, W. (2007). Coherence-driven resolution of referential ambiguity: A computational model. Memory & Cognition, 35, 1307–1322.
Frazier, L. (1987). Sentence processing: A tutorial review. In M. Coltheart (Ed.), Attention and Performance XII (pp. 559–586). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
Frederiksen, J. (1981). Understanding anaphora: Rules used by readers in assigning pronominal referents. Discourse Processes, 4, 323–347.
Garnham, A. (2001). Mental models and the interpretation of anaphora. Hove: Psychology Press.
Garnham, A., Traxler, M., Oakhill, J., & Gernsbacher, M. A. (1996). The locus of implicit causality effects in comprehension. Journal of Memory & Language, 35, 517–543.
Garvey, C., & Caramazza, A. (1974). Implicit causality in verbs. Linguistic Inquiry, 5, 459–464.
Garvey, C., Caramazza, A., & Yates, J. (1975). Factors influencing assignment of pronoun antecedents. Cognition, 3, 227–243.
Gernsbacher, M. A., & Hargreaves, D. (1988). Accessing sentence participants: The advantage of first mention. Journal of Memory and Language, 27, 699–717.
Givón, T. (1983). Topic continuity in discourse. Amsterdam: Benjamins.
Gordon, P. C., Hendrick, R., & Foster, K. L. (2000). Language comprehension and probe-list memory. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 26(3), 766.
Greene, S. B., & McKoon, G. (1995). Telling something we can’t know: Experimental approaches to verbs exhibiting implicit causality. Psychological Science, 6, 262–270.
Gundel, J., Hedberg, N., & Zacharski, R. (1993). Cognitive status and the form of referring expressions. Language, 69, 274–307.
Hakulinen, A., & Karlsson, F. (1988). Nykysuomen Lauseoppia. Helsinki: Suomalaisen Kirjallisuuden Seura.
Halmari, H. (1996). On accessibility and coreference. PRAGMATICS AND BEYOND NEW SERIES, 155-178.
Hedberg, N. (2000). The referential status of clefts. Language, 891–920.
Heller, D., Grodner, D., & Tanenhaus, M. K. (2008). The role of perspective in identifying domains of reference. Cognition, 108, 831–836.
Hopper, P. J., & Thompson, S. A. (1980). Transitivity in grammar and discourse. Language, 56(2), 251–299.
Järvikivi, J., Van Gompel, R. P. G., Hyönä, J., & Bertram, R. (2005). Ambiguous pronoun resolution: Contrasting the first-mention and subject-preference accounts. Psychological Science, 16, 260–264.
Kaiser, E. (2000) Pronouns and demonstratives in Finnish: Indicators of Referent Salience. In P. Baker, A. Hardie, T. McEnery and A. Siewierska (eds.), Proceedings of the Discourse Anaphora and Anaphor Resolution Conference. Lancaster, UK: University Center for Computer Corpus Research on Language, Technical Papers vol.12, 20–27.
Kaiser, E., & Trueswell, J. (2008). Interpreting pronouns and demonstratives in Finnish: Evidence for a form-specific approach to reference resolution. Language and Cognitive Processes, 23, 709–748.
Kako, E. (2006). Thematic role properties of subjects and objects. Cognition, 101, 1–42.
Kehler, A., Kertz, L., Rohde, H., & Elman, J. L. (2008). Coherence and coreference revisited. Journal of Semantics, 25, 1–44.
Koornneef, A. W., & Van Berkum, J. J. A. (2006). On the use of verb-based implicit causality in sentence comprehension: Evidence from self-paced reading and eye tracking. Journal of Memory & Language, 54, 445–465.
McDonald, J. L., & MacWhinney, B. (1995). The time-course of anaphor resolution: Effects of implicit verb causality and gender. Journal of Memory & Language, 34, 543–566.
McKoon, G., Greene, S. B., & Ratcliff, R. (1993). Discourse models, pronoun resolution, and the implicit causality of verbs. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 19, 1040–1052.
Miltsakaki, E. (2002). Toward an aposynthesis of topic continuity and intrasentential anaphora. Computational Linguistics, 28, 319–355.
Pollatsek, A., & Well, A. D. (1995). On the use of counterbalanced designs in cognitive research: A suggestion for a better and more powerful analysis. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, & Cognition, 21, 785–794.
Pyykkönen, P., & Järvikivi, J. (2010). Activation and persistence of implicit causality information in spoken language comprehension. Experimental Psychology, 57(1), 5–16.
Pyykkönen, P., Matthews, D., & Järvikivi, J. (2010). Three-year-olds are sensitive to semantic prominence during online language comprehension: A visual world study of pronoun resolution. Language and Cognitive Processes, 25(1), 115–129.
Rose, R. L. (2005). The relative contribution of syntactic and semantic prominence to the salience of discourse entities. PhD thesis, Northwestern University.
Schumacher, P., Roberts, L., & Järvikivi, J. (in press). Agentivity drives real-time pronoun resolution: Evidence from German er and der. Lingua.
Stevenson, R. J., Crawley, A., & Kleinman, D. (1994). Thematic roles, focus and the representation of events. Language and Cognitive Processes, 9, 519–548.
Stewart, A. J., Pickering, M. J., & Sanford, A. J. (2000). The time course of the influence of implicit causality information: Focusing versus integration accounts. Journal of Memory and Language, 42, 423–443.
Tanenhaus, M. K., Spivey-Knowlton, M. J., Eberhard, K. M., & Sedivy, J. C. (1995). Integration of visual and linguistic information in spoken language comprehension. Science, 268, 1632–1634.
Trueswell, J. C., Tanenhaus, M. K., & Garnsey, S. (1994). Semantic influences on parsing: Use of thematic role information in syntactic ambiguity resolution. Journal of Memory and Language, 33, 285–318.
Van Berkum, J. J. A., Koornneef, A. W., Otten, M., & Nieuwland, M. S. (2007). Establishing reference in language comprehension: An electrophysiological perspective. Brain Research, 1146, 158–171.
Van Donzel, M. (1999). Prosodic aspects of information structure in discourse. The Hague: Thesus.
This study was supported by a grant from The Academy of Finland (Grant No. 106418) awarded to the first author and a grant from the Leverhulme Trust (F/00143E) to the second author.
About this article
Cite this article
Järvikivi, J., van Gompel, R.P.G. & Hyönä, J. The Interplay of Implicit Causality, Structural Heuristics, and Anaphor Type in Ambiguous Pronoun Resolution. J Psycholinguist Res 46, 525–550 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10936-016-9451-1
- Implicit causality
- Visual-world eye-tracking
- Pronoun resolution