Complement set reference after implicitly small quantities: an event-related potentials study

Joanne Ingram, Heather J. Ferguson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
137 Downloads (Pure)


An anaphoric reference to the complement-set is a reference to the set which does not fulfil the predicate of the preceding sentence. Preferred reference to the complement-set has been found in eye movements when a character’s implicit desire for a high amount has been denied using a negative emotion. We recorded ERPs to examine if, when a character’s desire is denied with a negative emotion, the complement-set is immediately available for reference. Analysis of the N400 over posterior regions showed that while readers favoured the reference-set following a positive emotion, there was no difference in responses between complement-set and reference-set references following a negative emotion. Processing of a complement-set reference did lead to an overall increase in negativity of the N400, suggesting that interpreting a complement-set reference incurred a general processing cost. This study provides novel data on the range of circumstances under which the complement-set is available.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)146-156
Number of pages11
JournalDiscourse Processes
Issue number2
Early online date12 Jul 2017
Publication statusPublished - 17 Feb 2018


  • complement set
  • emotion words
  • N400
  • negation
  • pronoun resolution


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