GERNSBACHER, M. A., & SHROYER, S. (1989). The cataphoric use of the indefinite this in spoken narratives. Memory & Cognition, 17, 536-540.
Are concepts that were introduced with the unstressed, indefinite article this, as opposed to the indefinite article a/an, more accessible from listeners’ mental representations? Subjects heard and then verbally continued each of a series of informal narratives. The last clause of each narrative introduced a new noun phrase that began with either the indefinite this or the indefinite a/an (e.g., this egg or an egg). When the concepts were introduced with the indefinite this, subjects referred to them more frequently, often within the first clauses that they produced, and typically via pronouns. In contrast, when the concepts were introduced with a/an, subjects referred to them less frequently and typically via full noun phrases. Thus, concepts introduced with the indefinite this were more accessible; therefore, the indefinite this appears to operate cataphorically to improve referential access.