Theses and Dissertations


Karimi, Hossein

Committee Member

Eakin, Deborah

Committee Member

Soares, Julia

Committee Member

Jaeger, Allison

Date of Degree


Original embargo terms

Immediate Worldwide Access

Document Type

Graduate Thesis - Open Access



Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.)


College of Arts and Sciences


Department of Psychology


Simple shifts within the syntactic structure of a sentence can have significant effects on the cognitive processes involved in language comprehension (Deckert, 2015; Ellis, 2002; Ferreira, 2003). Modifier position is one such syntactic element that has shown the importance of structure as demonstrated by Karimi et al. (2019). Post-modified words (e.g., a “peasant who was highly educated”) are encoded more robustly and are retrieved more easily than pre-modified words (e.g., a “highly educated peasant”). We explored the potential influence of modifier position on statement believability, namely, how much people believe a statement they have not heard before in Experiment 1. In Experiment 2 we examined how linear modification affects the perceptual qualities being transferred to the target noun phrase. Our results from both experiments illustrate a strong effect of Likelihood (familiarity) and provide interesting insight into the modification effect, and how modifiers may enhance target noun phrases.