Research data for paper "Anticipanting causes and consequences"

Posted on 05.02.2020 - 16:13 by Alan Garnham
Datasets etc for paper "Anticipating causes and consequences" appearing in Journal of Memory and Language, 2020.


Two visual world eye-tracking experiments investigated anticipatory looks to implicit causes and implicit consequences in two clause sentences with mental state verbs (Stimulus-Experiencer and Experiencer-Stimulus) in the first main clause, and an explicit cause or consequence in the second. The first experiment showed that, just as when all continuations are causes, people look early at the implicit cause, when all continuations are consequences they look early at the implicit consequence, for the same verbs. When causes and consequences are intermixed, people direct their looks at the cause or consequence on a trial-by-trial basis depending on the connective (“because” or “and so”). Numerically, causes were favored overall, even when all the endings were consequences, but the effect was only significant at the end of the sentences in Experiment 2. The results are discussed in terms of rapid deployment of causal and consequential information implicit in mental state verbs, and in relation to conflicting accounts of why causes or consequences might generally be favored.


Further Information

Interpersonal verbs, such as frighten and fear, describe states or events, and one of the protagonists is the most likely cause of the event and one, maybe the same one, maybe the other, is more likely to suffer the consequences. So, in "John frightened Bill", John is the implicit cause and Bill the person likely to experience the consequences. Continuations from such sentences can give causes or consequences that are congruent (John frightened Bill because he pulled out a knife) or incongruent (John frightened Bill because he hated seeing knives drawn) with the implicit cause or consequence. For some verbs, like frighten, the implicit cause is the first person mentioned (NP1), and for some, like fear, it is the NP2. For these mental state verbs, the implicit consequence is the other NP, not the implicit cause. It is well established, more so for implicit causality, but also for implicit consequentiality, that the causality or consequentiality of a verb (NP1 or NP2) affects processing, and does congruity in processing a subsequent "because" or "and so" clause depicting and explicit cause or consequence. Up to around 2000 most evidence suggested that such effects manifested themselves at the end of the second clause (the Integration Hypothesis), but more recent Visual World studies have shown, at least for implicit causality, that earlier looks to a picture of the implicit cause, rather than the other person, can be found at least as early as the word "because". Experiments in this collection examine these effects further, investigating whether they occur for implicit consequentiality, and whether they depend on the mix of passages presented in the experimental session (as the early Visual World causality experiments presented causes only). In the experiments we focus on mental state verbs, which are a subcategory of interpersonal verbs that show implicit causality effects. These verbs are analysed semantically as presenting a relation between a Stimulus (the implicit cause) and an Experiencer (with whom the implicit consequences are associated). They can be SE (stimulus followed by Experience, as with frighten) or ES (fear). Although these verbs show clearer implicit causality and implicit consequentiality than other classes,there are, nevertheless, only a rather small number of common verbs of this kind with strong biases as measured in sentence completion experiments. We use verbs of this kind selected by norms previously collected by Ferstl et al., Behavioral Research Methods, 2010. Crinean and Garnham (Language and Cognitive Processes, 2006) argued that such verbs should show implicit consequentiality effects that were the reverse of there implicit causality (NP1 causality paired with NP2 consequentiality, and vice versa) and showed that this was true in a small set of consequentiality norms collected by Andrew Stewart. We used sentences about (and pictures of) anthropomorphised animals for ease of identification of the characters in the sentence with the characters in the pictures. An example sentence would be: The crab hated the lion after going to the nightclub, because he had unfortunately drunk too much alcohol and acted anti-socially. (causal) The crab hated the lion after going to the nightclub, and so he had immediately turned down the party invitation. (consequential) The expected effect of interest occurs in the region "because he had unfortunately"/"and so he had immediate" - called an Early Effect (EF), because it occurs before the point of integration. We also expect to see effects corresponding to those reported in other literature at the end of the sentences (Late Effect, LE). Effects that are independent of the conjunction occurring in an individual sentence, and which reflect any general bias to causes or consequences may occur in the region "after going to the nightclub" and are referred to as Very Early Effects (VEF). Experiment 1 In Experiment 2 we present only sentences with explicit consequential endings (....and so.....) to investigate whether effects mirroring those with implicit causality can be found (a rapid integration of implicit causality information with the explicit signal of a cause (...because...) to produce more looks to the picture of the implicit cause than to the picture of the other person. Three hypotheses bear on whether the consequential results should mirror the causal ones. 1. Kehler proposed that, for mental state verbs, causes are prioritised over consequences. 2. General considerations about the way narratives develop suggest that later sentences and clause take up the consequence of what was described earlier, so consequences should be prioritised. 3. An analysis by Moens and Steedman (1988) suggests that consequences might be prioritised for events but not states (and hence not for mental states). Experiment 2 In Experiment 2, sentences with NP1 biased and NP2 biased verbs and with causal and consequential endings are randomly intermixed to investigate whether the rapid favouring of implicit causes and implicit consequences switched on a trial to trial basis, and whether there is any modulation by an overall favouring of causes or consequences (see above). Experiments 1 and 2 are described in a paper published in Journal of Memory and Language (Garnham, A., Child, S., & Hutton, S. (2020). Anticipating causes and consequences. Journal of Memory and Language, 114, 104130.



Garnham, Alan; Hutton, Sam; Child, Scarlett (2020): Research data for paper "Anticipanting causes and consequences". University of Sussex. Collection.
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