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Share Paper 2718

Is Magnitude Estimation Worth the Trouble?
Shin Fukuda, Grant Goodall, Dan Michel, and Henry Beecher
328-336 (complete paper or proceedings contents)


In sentence acceptability experiments, subjects are typically asked to indicate their response by means of a yes/no forced choice task, an n-point numerical scale task, or a magnitude estimation (ME) task. Among these, ME is commonly taken to yield a better type of data. We submit these three response methods to a critical examination by comparing the results obtained by each in three otherwise identical experiments. These experiments explore a wide range of acceptability contrasts, from very clear to very subtle, and we find that the three methods generally appear to be equally capable of capturing these contrasts. Given the known drawbacks of ME, we conclude that yes/no and n-point tasks are more reasonable choices for most sentence judgment experiments.

Published in

Proceedings of the 29th West Coast Conference on Formal Linguistics
edited by Jaehoon Choi, E. Alan Hogue, Jeffrey Punske, Deniz Tat, Jessamyn Schertz, and Alex Trueman
Table of contents
Printed edition: $375.00