The interplay of implicit causality, structural heuristics, and anaphor type in ambiguous pronoun resolution

Juhani Järvikivi (Lead / Corresponding author), Roger P. G. van Gompel, Jukka Hyönä

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27 Citations (Scopus)
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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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)525-550
Number of pages26
JournalJournal of Psycholinguistic Research
Issue number3
Early online date14 Sept 2016
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2017


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


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