Psychonomic Bulletin & Review

, Volume 11, Issue 5, pp 953–959

Processing doubly quantified sentences: Evidence from eye movements

  • Ruth Filik
  • Kevin B. Paterson
  • Simon P. Liversedge
Brief Reports


We investigated the processing of doubly quantified sentences, such asKelly showed a photo to every critic, that are ambiguous as to whether the indefinite (a photo) specifies single or multiple referents. Ambiguity resolution requires the computation of relative quantifier scope: Whether a or every takes wide scope, thereby determining how many entities or events are to be represented. In an eye-tracking experiment, we manipulated quantifier order and whether continuations were singular or plural, for constructions with the direct or the indirect object occurring first. We obtained effects consistent with the on-line processing of relative scope at the doubly quantified phrase and considered two possible explanations for a preference for singular continuations to the quantified sentence. We conclude that relative quantifier scope is computed on line during reading but may not be a prerequisite for the resolution of definite anaphors, unless required by secondary tasks.

Copyright information

© Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ruth Filik
    • 1
  • Kevin B. Paterson
    • 2
  • Simon P. Liversedge
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of GlasgowGlasgowScotland
  2. 2.University of LeicesterLeicesterEngland
  3. 3.University of DurhamDurhamEngland

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