Fulfilling Expectations in Implicit Causality Constructions: A Psycholinguistic Study of Coreference and Coherence Biases
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IC verbs have also been studied in a different framework that sheds light on more complex behaviour. Within the theoretical framework of Discourse Coherence, there are several discourse relations that break down the work of coherence into more nuanced categories. Each coherence relation describes a different kind of relationship governing segments of a discourse in a way that allows comprehenders to predict the direction that the discourse is going (Kehler 2000, 2002). The important relation for discussing IC verbs is the Explanation relation. An Explanation relation describes how comprehenders infer that, out of two sentences, the second one provides explanatory information for the first (Kehler 2002). Kehler et al. (2008) found that not only do IC verbs produce object-bias continuations, they also reliably produce continuations that contain an Explanation relation. This fact alone suggests that there is some relationship between IC verbs and the discourse, because the causality somehow triggers comprehenders to search for a satisfying explanation and produce one if they cannot retrieve one from the discourse (Kehler et al. 2008). In an attempt to interrogate this relationship further, various experiments have been done to see if the Explanation expectation can be ‘satisfied’ or ‘fulfilled’ by a phrase that bears an explanation. In the event that this expectation is satisfied, then not only would an Explanation no longer be needed or produced, but the object would also be released from its bias and the comprehender would be free to discuss the target subject or object. If these experiments are successful, the results show that Implicit Causality as a coherence and coreference phenomenon has less rigid behaviour than has been predicted by researchers like Hartshorne. Additionally, these experiments suggest that Implicit Causality is at least partially manifested in the discourse.