This paper examines the effects of attended and unattended demonstratives on text processing, comprehension, and writing quality in two studies. In the first study, participants (n = 45) read 64 mini-stories in a self-paced reading task and identified the main referent in the clauses. The sentences varied in the type of demonstratives (i.e., this, that, these, and those) contained in the sentences and whether the referent was followed by a demonstrative determiner and noun (i.e., an attended demonstrative) or a demonstrative pronoun (i.e., an unattended demonstrative). In the second study, 173 persuasive essays written by high school students were rated by expert judges on overall writing quality using a standardized rubric. Expert coders manually counted the number and types of demonstratives (attended and unattended demonstratives) in each essay. These counts were used to predict the human scores of essay quality. The findings demonstrate that the use of unattended demonstratives as anaphoric references is disadvantageous to both reading time and referent identification. However, these disadvantages become advantages in terms of essay quality likely because linguistic complexity is a strong indicator of high proficiency writing. From a text processing and comprehension viewpoint, the findings indicate, then, that anaphoric reference is not always beneficial and does not always create a more cohesive text. In contrast, from a writing context, the use of unattended demonstratives leads to a more linguistically complex text, which generally equates to a higher quality text.
Reading and Writing – Springer Journals
Published: Sep 15, 2016
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