Is Passive Priming Really Impervious to Verb Semantics?:A High-Powered Replication of Messenger Et al. (2012)

Darmasetiyawan, I Made Sena and Messenger, Kate and Ambridge, Ben (2022) Is Passive Priming Really Impervious to Verb Semantics?:A High-Powered Replication of Messenger Et al. (2012). Collabra: Psychology, 8 (1). ISSN 2474-7394

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The aim of the present study was to conduct a particularly stringent pre-registered investigation of the claim that there exists a level of linguistic representation that “includes syntactic category information but not semantic information” (Branigan & Pickering, 2017: 8). As a test case, we focussed on the English passive; a construction for which previous findings have been somewhat contradictory. On the one hand, several studies using different methodologies have found an advantage for theme-experiencer passives (e.g., The girl was shocked by the tiger; and also agent-patient passives; e.g., The girl was hit by the tiger) over experiencer-theme passives (e.g., The girl was ignored by the tiger). On the other hand, Messenger et al. (2012) found no evidence that theme-experiencer and experiencer-theme passives vary in their propensity to prime production of agent-patient passives. We therefore conducted an online replication of Messenger et al (2012) with a pre-registered appropriately powered sample (N=240). Although a large and significant priming effect (i.e., an effect of prime sentence type) was observed, a Bayesian analysis yielded only weak/anecdotal evidence (BF=2.11) for the crucial interaction of verb type by prime type; a finding that was robust to different coding and exclusion decisions, operationalizations of verb semantics (dichotomous/continuous), analysis frameworks (Bayesian/frequentist) and – as per a mixed-effects-multiverse analyses – random effects structures. Nevertheless, these findings do no not provide evidence for the absence of semantic effects (as has been argued for the findings of Messenger et al, 2012). We conclude that these and related findings are best explained by a model that includes both lexical, exemplar-level representations and representations at multiple higher levels of abstraction.

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Collabra: Psychology
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03 Feb 2023 15:00
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19 Sep 2023 02:58