Sarah Eilers, Simon P Tiffin-Richards, and Sascha Schroeder (2018)

Individual differences in children’s pronoun processing during reading: Detection of incongruence is associated with higher reading fluency and more regressions

Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 173:250-267.

In two eye tracking experiments, we tested fourth graders’ and adults’ sensitivity to gender feature mismatches during reading of pronouns and their susceptibility to interference of feature-matching entities in the sentence. In Experiment 1, we showed children and adults two-phrase sentences such as 'Leonm/Lisaf shooed away the sparrowm/the seagullf and then hem ate the tasty sandwich.' Eye tracking measures showed no qualitative differences between children’s and adults’ processing of the pronouns. Both age groups showed longer gaze durations on subject mismatching than on matching pronouns, and there was no evidence of interference of a gender-matching object. Strikingly, in contrast to the adults, not all fourth graders reported detection of the subject gender mismatch. In Experiment 2, we replicated earlier results with a larger sample of children (N = 75) and found that only half of the fourth graders detected the gender mismatch during reading. The detectors’ reading pattern at the pronoun differed from that of the non-detectors. Children who reported detection of the mismatch showed a reading pattern more similar to the adults. Children who did not report detection of the mismatch had comparably slower gaze durations and were less likely to make regressions directly at the pronoun. We conclude that children who read more fluently use their available processing resources to immediately repair grammatical inconsistencies encountered in a text. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2018 APA, all rights reserved)

Accession Number: 2018-27890-018. PMID: 29753908 Partial author list: First Author & Affiliation: Eilers, Sarah; Max Planck Research Group REaD, Max Planck Institute for Human Development, Berlin, Germany. Release Date: 20180628. Publication Type: Journal (0100), Peer Reviewed Journal (0110). Format Covered: Electronic. Document Type: Journal Article. Language: English. Major Descriptor: Individual Differences; Pronouns; Reading Achievement; Reading Development; Sentence Comprehension. Minor Descriptor: Visual Tracking. Classification: Psychosocial & Personality Development (2840). Population: Human (10); Male (30); Female (40). Location: Germany. Age Group: Childhood (birth-12 yrs) (100); Preschool Age (2-5 yrs) (160); School Age (6-12 yrs) (180); Adulthood (18 yrs & older) (300). Methodology: Empirical Study; Quantitative Study. Page Count: 18. Issue Publication Date: Sep, 2018. Publication History: First Posted Date: May 10, 2018; Revised Date: Mar 27, 2018; First Submitted Date: Jul 26, 2017. Copyright Statement: All rights reserved. Elsevier Inc. 2018.