Abstract: The locus of implicit causality effects in comprehension

GARNHAM, A., TRAXLER, M. J., OAKHILL, J., & GERNSBACHER, M. A. (1996). The locus of implicit causality effects in comprehension. Journal of Memory and Language, 35, 517-543.

Implicit causality might enable readers to focus on the imputed cause of an event, and make it the default referent of a following pronoun. Alternatively, its effects might only arise when a following explicit cause is integrated with a description of the event. In three probe recognition experiments, in which the participants in the events were of the same sex, the only reliable effect-apart from the advantage of the first mention-was that of whether implicit and explicit causes were the same. This effect was independent of whether the probe named the referent of the pronoun. In a fourth experiment, in which the two participants were of different sexes, there was no simple effect of implicit causality, but there was an advantage for the pronoun’s referent. These results are consistent with the view that implicit causality has its effects at integration. We discuss their broader implications for theories of comprehension.