The Influence of implicit causality verb bias on children's interpretation of ambiguous pronouns
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In this study a completion task and a comprehension task were carried out to investigate the influence of implicit causality on children’s resolution of ambiguous pronouns. The children in this study were aged 8 years and 10 months to 11 years and 7 months. Previous adult studies have shown that adults use implicit causality bias encoded in the meaning of certain verbs to interpret sentences containing ambiguous pronouns. For example, if a sentence has an NP1 bias verb such as phone then the explanation given in the sentence that follows the connective because will typically refer to the first noun phrase. On the other hand, if a sentence has an NP2 bias verb such as thank then the explanation given in the sentence following the connective because will usually refer to the second noun phrase. The aim of this study was to ascertain whether children also use these implicit causality cues to comprehend sentences. The results show that children appear to use the same cues as adults when interpreting ambiguous pronouns in single sentences. Our results support the view that the ability to use syntactic and semantic information is an early emerging property of the comprehension system. Our results also suggest that certain verbs appear to cue the participant to produce completions in a particular mode of explanation; empirical, intentional or deductive.