Processing differences in additive relations
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Readers generate their understanding of whole texts by processing the meaningful links, known as Coherence Relations, between text segments. This paper argues that additive Coherence Relations, which are generally considered to be the simplest, in fact show varying structural complexity. In an eye-tracking experiment the processing difficulty of different additive structures was tested, as well the impact of connectives on the processing of these relations. More structurally complex ‘list’ structures were found to be read more slowly than simpler ‘elaborations’, suggesting greater processing difficulty, although participants may be influenced by the more causal-like nature of the simpler structures. Connectives typically caused texts to be read more quickly, even when incorrect. We suggest that this is because while correct marking may be beneficial, imperfect additive connective marking risks causing readers to abandon their efforts to process the text, with the more complex list structures at greater risk.