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Open Access Publications from the University of California

The role of production expectations in visual world paradigm linking hypotheses


While widely used in psycholinguistics, the linking hypothesis for eye movements in the visual world paradigm is still poorly understood. Recent work on linking hypotheses for referential tasks in particular has found mixed support for the 'Referential Belief Link': that the proportion of looks to a referent in a time window reflects participants' degree of belief that the referent is the intended target in that time window. Here we test the hypothesis that participants' expectations for the utterances observed in an experiment modulate the extent to which the Referential Belief Link holds. This hypothesis is motivated by a simple idea: when utterances are unexpected, listeners engage in additional reasoning to make sense of the observed signal. In a re-analysis of a previous eye movement and incremental decision task dataset, in conjunction with two novel production experiments, we find that the more surprising an observed utterance is, the smaller the correlation between explicit and implicit beliefs is. We discuss the importance of participants' production expectations in research using the visual world paradigm.

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