Pronoun resolution in skilled and less-skilled comprehenders: Effects of memory load and inferential complexity

Oakhill, Jane and Yuill, Nicola (1986) Pronoun resolution in skilled and less-skilled comprehenders: Effects of memory load and inferential complexity. Language and Speech, 29 (1). pp. 25-37. ISSN 0023-8309

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Abstract

This paper reports two experiments that investigate skilled and less-skilled compre-henders' ability to understand pronouns. In the first experiment, the less-skilled group made more errors in answering questions about pronoun antecedents than did the skilled group, even when there was a gender cue to the correct referent, and when the clause containing the referents was available for them to refer back to. In the second experiment, the pronoun antecedents always differed in gender, and the children's attention was drawn to the pronominal link by requiring them to provide a pronoun appropriate to the sentence, before they answered a question about it. The difficulty of the pronoun resolution was manipulated by varying the inferential complexity of the pronoun-anaphor link. In both tasks, the difference between the groups was larger when a complex inference was required than when only a simple inference was needed. We conclude that the less-skilled comprehenders' difficulty in resolving pronouns may arise in part because they do not attend properly to cues such as gender of referent, and in particular because they have difficulty drawing necessary inferences, especially when the inferential processing is at all complex. The implications of these results for remediation are discussed

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Psychology > Psychology
Depositing User: Jane Oakhill
Date Deposited: 06 Feb 2012 15:30
Last Modified: 12 Apr 2012 12:13
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/13003
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