Abstract/Details

The computation of subject -verb number agreement: Response time studies


2008 2008

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Abstract (summary)

Speakers frequently make subject-verb number agreement errors in the presence of a number-mismatching local noun (e.g., *The key to the rusty old cabinets are on the table). A series of two-choice response time (RT) experiments was used to test an account of these errors according to which a number attractor generally makes the speaker's representation of subject number less definitive, with errors arising probabilistically from a competitive decision process. As predicted by this account, the presence of a number attractor reliably slowed responding when the correct response was issued. Analysis of RT distributions showed that this slowing was not due to pronounced difficulty on a minority of trials, but instead was manifested on most trials. Error responses were not slowed compared to correct responses, suggesting that errors and correct responses emerged from a single decision process. The data patterns were modeled using the Ratcliff diffusion model (Ratcliff, 1978), which explicitly assumes that variability in response output is due to random trial-to-trial variability in a range of decision parameters. Exceptions to these data patterns were observed in the case of non-intervening attraction, suggesting that this phenomenon may have a distinct cause. The results are taken to argue against standard accounts of number attraction, according to which errors occur in specific instances in which the speaker's representation of subject number is defective.

Indexing (details)


Subject
Cognitive psychology;
Language
Classification
0633: Cognitive psychology
0679: Language
Identifier / keyword
Psychology, Language, literature and linguistics, Agreement, Language production, Sentence processing, Subject-verb number agreement
Title
The computation of subject -verb number agreement: Response time studies
Author
Staub, Adrian
Number of pages
163
Publication year
2008
Degree date
2008
School code
0118
Source
DAI-B 69/12, Dissertation Abstracts International
Place of publication
Ann Arbor
Country of publication
United States
ISBN
9780549915140
Advisor
Clifton, Charles
Committee member
Cohen, Andrew; Frazier, Lyn; Rayner, Keith; Scott, Lisa
University/institution
University of Massachusetts Amherst
Department
Psychology
University location
United States -- Massachusetts
Degree
Ph.D.
Source type
Dissertations & Theses
Language
English
Document type
Dissertation/Thesis
Dissertation/thesis number
3336928
ProQuest document ID
304568228
Copyright
Database copyright ProQuest LLC; ProQuest does not claim copyright in the individual underlying works.
Document URL
http://search.proquest.com/docview/304568228
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