Ambiguous pronoun resolution: Contrasting the first-mention and subject preference accounts

Juhani Järvikivi, Roger P. G. van-Gompel, Jukka Hyönä, Raymond Bertram

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    115 Citations (Scopus)


    A visual-world eye-tracking experiment investigated the influence of order of mention and grammatical role on resolution of ambiguous pronouns in Finnish. According to the first-mention account, general cognitive structure-building processes make the first-mentioned noun phrase the preferred antecedent of an ambiguous pronoun. According to the subject-preference account, the preferred antecedent is the grammatical subject of the preceding clause or sentence. Participants listened to sentences in either subject-verb-object or object-verb-subject order; each was followed by a sentence containing an ambiguous pronoun that referred to either the subject or the object. Participants' eye movements were monitored while they looked at pictures representing the two possible antecedents of each pronoun. Analyses of the fixations on the pictures showed that listeners used both order-of-mention and grammatical-role information to resolve ambiguous pronouns.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)260-264
    JournalPsychological Science
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 2005


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