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Poster B88

Affect, eye-gaze and reference

Poster Session B - Sunday, April 14, 2024, 8:00 – 10:00 am EDT, Sheraton Hall ABC

Veena D. Dwivedi1 (, Louis A. Schmidt2, Haorong Ding1; 1Brock University, 2McMaster University

The social cue of eye-gaze can convey a range of useful information—including contextual support for demonstrating reference in sentences. In an online study, we presented 84 monolingual English speaker participants with emotionally neutral Caucasian faces with direct vs. averted gaze. Each face was followed by a sentence where direct objects were indicated to have either non-specific (The kid climbed a tree…) vs. specific reference (The kid climbed that tree…) Participants made judgments regarding the naturalness of each sentence on a scale of 1-7, and we investigated whether eye-gaze direction impacted those judgments. We also wanted to know whether dispositional affect would modulate responses. Results revealed that participants rated sentences exhibiting non-specific reference as more natural than those with specific reference. Furthermore, an interaction of specificity and gaze direction was found. Based on previous work from our lab, we split the participants into high vs. low positive affect groups. The findings indicated that individuals with high positive affect were, in fact, the drivers of the interaction. That is, low positive affect individuals were insensitive to gaze direction. These results are consistent with previous findings where we hypothesized that high positive affect individuals were more motivated to interpret sentences for meaning vs. low positive affect individuals who were more concerned with task-level requirements.

Topic Area: LANGUAGE: Semantic


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April 13–16  |  2024