Journal article

Word-order and causal inference: The temporal attribution bias

Maria Laura Bettinsoli, Anne Maass, Yoshihisa Kashima, Caterina Suitner

JOURNAL OF EXPERIMENTAL SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY | ACADEMIC PRESS INC ELSEVIER SCIENCE | Published : 2015

Abstract

Languages differ with respect to the standard order in which subject (S), object (O), and verb (V) are arranged. Two studies, using a translation paradigm and conducted in Italian and in English, tested whether the order in which S, O, and V are mentioned in active sentences will impact the causal interpretation of the described event. We hypothesized and found that participants attribute an event more to a specific cause when the relevant element occurs in the first rather than in a later (2nd or 3rd) position. Findings are discussed with respect to within-language and cross-language variations of word order.