Referencing context in sentence processing: A failure to replicate the strong interactive mental models hypothesis

Jack Dempsey, Kiel Christianson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The role of contextual influences on sentence processing remains underdeveloped and is often assumed to play some vaguely defined role in sentence processing. In 2005, Grodner, Gibson, and Watson (GGW) used self-paced reading to test the extent to which preceding discourse structure and complexity influence the interpretation of restrictive relative clauses. Their findings suggest that discourse can influence unambiguous syntactic selection processes and does so rapidly, such that discourse can project syntactic structures onto subsequent text during reading. Although being moderately cited since its publication, there has been no replication attempt to this date, all the while the field has developed more sophisticated methods for crossed designs and has highlighted the need for robust replication attempts to mitigate an ever-growing replication crisis. Bayesian modeling yielded considerable evidence against the interaction effect that supports GGW's Strong Interactive Mental Models Hypothesis, suggesting discourse information does not proactively facilitate or project syntactic structures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number104335
JournalJournal of Memory and Language
StatePublished - Aug 2022


  • discourse processing
  • psycholinguistics
  • replication
  • sentence processing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Artificial Intelligence


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