Middle ratings rise regardless of grammatical construction: testing syntactic variability in a new repeated exposure paradigm
J.M.M. Brown, Gisbert Fanselow, Rebecca Hall, Reinhold Kliegl
April 2021

People perceive sentences more favourably after hearing or reading them many times. A prominent approach in linguistic theory argues that these types of exposure effects (satiation effects) show direct evidence of a generative approach to linguistic knowledge: only some sentences improve under repeated exposure, and which sentences do improve can be predicted by a model of linguistic competence that yields natural syntactic classes. However, replications of the original findings have been inconsistent, and it remains unclear whether satiation effects can be reliably induced in an experimental setting at all. Here we report four findings regarding satiation effects in wh-questions across German and English. First, the effects pertain to zone of well-formedness rather than syntactic class: all intermediate ratings, including calibrated fillers, increase at the beginning of the experimental session regardless of syntactic construction. Second, though there is satiation, ratings asymptote below maximum acceptability. Third, these effects are consistent across judgments of superiority effects in English and German. Fourth, wh-questions appear to show similar profiles in English and German, despite these languages being traditionally considered to differ strongly in whether they show effects on movement: violations of the superiority condition can be modulated to a similar degree in both languages by manipulating subject-object initiality and animacy congruency of the wh-phrase. We improve on classic satiation methods by distinguishing between two crucial tests, namely whether exposure selectively targets certain grammatical constructions or whether there is a general repeated exposure effect. We conclude that exposure effects can be reliably induced in rating experiments but exposure does not appear to selectively target certain grammatical constructions. Instead, they appear to be a phenomenon of intermediate gradient judgments. Data and analysis scripts for all the experiments can be accessed at: https://osf.io/ge2db/ Please cite the final PLOS One publication rather than this preprint: Brown JMM, Fanselow G, Hall R, Kliegl R (2021) Middle ratings rise regardless of grammatical construction: Testing syntactic variability in a repeated exposure paradigm. PLoS ONE 16(5): e0251280. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0251280
Format: [ pdf ]
Reference: lingbuzz/005496
(please use that when you cite this article)
Published in: https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0251280
keywords: superiority, islands, psycholinguistics, satiation, gradient judgments, syntax
previous versions: v3 [April 2021]
v2 [February 2021]
v1 [October 2020]
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