2 thoughts on “Effects of lifetime and fact knowledge in language comprehension

  1. Hi Daniela, thanks for two very nice presentations. I have more technical questions that I felt were not that interesting for the live session. First of all, how did you select the living and dead personalities, because it is easy to introduce a bias there and you don’t want too many people to not know a personality. In your examples it was also singers and actors, did you also have personalities from other groups like athletes or politicians? Secondly, what did you do with trials in which people had indicated not to know the person? Were they discarded entirely and if so, how much data was lost there?
    Two ideas/comments: I am not that surprized that time knowledge was extremely, as the quality of the picture can give away information on when it was taken, even if the person is not known. In the Emma Watson/Judy Garland example, it was very obvious that the Garland picture was taken much longer ago.
    Regarding the faster reading times that went against your expectation, yes, that is most likely a task effect as you wrote in the abstract. Participants read the mis-matched time information and know that whatever comes after does not influence their decision regarding sentence acceptability, as the sentence cannot get any ‘wronger’. Whereas for matched time information no early acceptability decision can be made. One possibility would be to swap time and fact information around and see, if that changes the dominance of the time information and the reading time pattern.

  2. Hi Silke, thanks for your questions!

    The living/dead personalities were chosen based on a mixture of cultural prominences (i.e., do we think this person will be known?) and how well we could produce dead-living pairs that could use the same sentence structure, e.g., actors. We did indeed have athletes and politicians, where we for example had a mismatch of the sport or country the given person is associated with.
    For the trials where participants indicated they did not know who the person was, these trials were included in the analyses I presented (and those in the abstract). We ran post-hoc analyses to look at processing differences based on the recognition responses, and found that trials which received a ‘yes’ recognition response to the picture elicited the same reading pattern you saw in the presentation and abstract, and that trials which received a ‘no’ recognition response (i.e., participants did not recognise the person in the picture) there were no effects in reading times, except in the sentence final region, which is after the name region, in which again we saw the main effect of lifetime with life-year mismatches eliciting longer reading times. So, we presume that, in trials which participants indicated they did not know who the person pictured was, either (i) effects of the visual aspects of the picture which might give a clue to whether or not the person was alive in a given year only emerged at sentence wrap-up, or (ii) the name and the penultimate sentence region prompted some long-term knowledge which led to the effect emerging in the final sentence region. I’m leaning towards the latter, but we would need to re-run the experiment without the names in order to more confidently support one over the other.

    Your suggestion of swapping the time and fact information is another idea we’ve toyed with, though in German generally it’s more natural to have temporal phrases at the beginning of the sentence. There’s definitely still some interesting questions to be explored, and we’ve got some more experiments planned to try to answer them!

    Please let me know if you have additional questions! Thanks again for your interest 🙂

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