Nuffield internship: How the sequence of events in a sentence affects people's understanding

Through the Nuffield Foundation, we have had the fantastic opportunity to carry out a 4 week psychology research placement at the University of Manchester's LuCiD Child Study Centre. During our placement, our main task was to carry out an experiment looking at children’s (aged 7-10) and adult’s comprehension of complex sentences with adverbial clauses and how the sequence of events in the sentence affects their understanding of it.

Using an opportunity sample, we recruited participants at the Manchester Museum to complete the experiment. Participants first listened to a couple of sentences and were then asked to select the matching picture story. For example, if they heard “Sue paints the old fence. Before she paints the old fence, she hoovers the house”, the participants were then presented with one picture story showing a person painting the fence and then hoovering the house, and another picture story of them hoovering the house first and then painting the fence. The participant would have to select which story matched the description. After this, participants also did a digit span task: They had to repeat increasingly long lists of digits forwards and backwards as a memory test.

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We would like to thank everybody at LuCiD for being so supportive and providing such a welcoming environment! We would also like to thank the Museum for letting us conduct the experiment there.

Eilidh and Meerab will present the results of the experiment at the Nuffield Research Placement Event on November 13th, at the University of Manchester.



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