[PS-3.27] Event duration for small- and large-scale events in language comprehension

Wang, Y. & Gennari, S. .

the University of York

Previous research shows that (small-scale) long events (altering a dress in three hours) in a story take longer to retrieve than shorter events (altering a dress in one hour) when probed after reading the story. Here we ask whether large-scale events lasting for weeks/months, which are not grounded in daily experience, would result in parallel sensitivity to duration changes (1) and if so, what is the nature of the representations underpinning event representations.

(1) The company is expanding. Jonathan was sent to Canada for a month/two months. He spent all that time drilling for oil?.Early probe: company, Late probe: drilling

Experiment 1 tested response times to early and late probes as a function of duration. We found a probe-duration interaction and a duration effect for late probes, with long events taking longer than shorter events.
A similar study combined short and large-scale events in one study and revealed late probe effects: large-scale events took longer than small-scale events (hours vs. months).
Several questionnaire and rating studies probing these events? representations indicated that long vs. short small-scale events differ in semantic diversity, whereas large-scale events differ in abstractness. This suggests that their response times stem from different but related semantic sources.