Resolving Conflicts in Natural and Grammatical Gender Agreement: Evidence from Eye Movements

Maya Dank*, Avital Deutsch, Kathryn Bock

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


The present research investigated the attraction phenomenon, which commonly occurs in the domain of production but is also apparent in comprehension. It particularly focused on its accessibility to conceptual influence, in analogy to previous findings in production in Hebrew (Deutsch and Dank, J Mem Lang, 60:112–143, 2009). The experiments made use of the contrast between grammatical and natural gender in Hebrew, using complex subject noun phrases containing head nouns and prepositional phrases with local nouns. Noun phrases were manipulated to produce (a) matches and mismatches in grammatical gender between heads and local nouns; and (b) inanimate nouns and animate nouns with natural gender that served either as head or as local nouns. These noun phrases were the subjects of sentences that ended with predicates agreeing in gender with the head noun, with the local noun, or both. The ungrammatical sentences were those in which the gender of the predicate and the head noun did not match. To assess the impact of conflicts in grammatical and natural gender on the time course of reading, participants’ eye movements were monitored. The results revealed clear disruptions in reading the predicate due to grammatical-gender mismatches with head and local nouns, in analogy to attraction in production. When the head nouns conveyed natural gender these effects were amplified, but variations in the natural gender of local nouns had negligible consequences. The results imply that comprehension and production are similarly sensitive to the control of grammatical agreement by grammatical and natural gender in subject noun phrases.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)435-467
Number of pages33
JournalJournal of Psycholinguistic Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - 18 Aug 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014, Springer Science+Business Media New York.


  • Attraction
  • Comprehension of agreement rules
  • Gender agreement
  • Hebrew agreement


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