[PS-1.48] Locality and Discourse Constraints in Reflexive Resolution: Evidence From Eye-Movements During Reading

Cunnings, I. 1 & Sturt, P. 2

1 University of Reading
2 University of Edinburgh

How locality and discourse constraints influence reflexive resolution is debated (Dillon et al., 2013; Kaiser et al., 2009). Most existing studies tested contexts where antecedents and reflexives are clausemates, but not cases where a reflexive has no clausemate antecedent. To examine such cases, we manipulated gender agreement between a reflexive and two non-clausemate antecedents (see 1).

In Experiment 1 (n=32), the nonlocal-antecedent was a 'source' ('John/Jane said...') and local-antecedent a 'perceiver' ('David/Diane heard...') of information. Experiment 2 (n=48) reversed these roles. We expected reflexives to prefer local-antecedents and information 'sources', and examined how these constraints interact during processing.

Both experiments yielded significant local*nonlocal antecedent interactions, with longer reading times at and after the reflexive when neither antecedent matched its gender ('Jane...Diane...himself') compared to all other conditions. Main effects of local-antecedent gender-mismatch, particularly when it was an information 'source', were also observed, suggesting a (violable) locality preference.

Although violability of the locality requirement of reflexives is controversial, these results indicate locality can be overridden when a reflexive has no clausemate. Reflexive resolution in such cases is influenced by locality and discourse constraints.

1. John/Jane said that David/Diane heard that there was a picture of himself just over near the old fireplace.