The contribution of memory to common ground effects during language comprehension

Zhao, Lin (2017). The contribution of memory to common ground effects during language comprehension. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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This thesis presented ten experiments investigating the role of working memory and long-term memory in forming, storing and using representations of what is known (i.e., common ground) among people engaged in communication. Chapter 1 provided a general review of common ground and perspective-taking effects in referential communication. Chapters 2 and 3 examined how memory loads and memory capacities constrain adults and children’s ability to use a speaker’s perspective in language comprehension. Experiment 1 employed eye-tracking with adult participants, and indicated dissociable roles of working memory and long-term in perspective encoding and perspective integration. Experiments 2-3 observed an age-related improvement in the use of perspective information in language comprehension between 8- and 10-year-olds. Chapters 5 and 6 explored whether effects of common ground could be achieved via a low-level memory-based mechanism reviewed in Chapter 4, without necessarily going though explicit inferences about perspectives. Experiments 4-7 tested whether partner-specific effects could be achieved via memory associations between conversational partners and referents. Experiments 8-10 explored whether an object being in common ground or privileged ground during a preceding discourse would influence people’s memory for this object. Finally, Chapter 7 provided a brief general discussion of the findings, and suggested some potential future directions.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Life & Environmental Sciences
School or Department: School of Psychology
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
L Education > L Education (General)
P Language and Literature > P Philology. Linguistics


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