Off-campus UMass Amherst users: To download campus access dissertations, please use the following link to log into our proxy server with your UMass Amherst user name and password.

Non-UMass Amherst users: Please talk to your librarian about requesting this dissertation through interlibrary loan.

Dissertations that have an embargo placed on them will not be available to anyone until the embargo expires.



Access Type

Open Access Thesis

Document Type


Degree Program


Degree Type

Master of Science (M.S.)

Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded



Previous research has suggested that attraction errors are not due to the proximity of the local noun and verb, as a more distant local noun can result in more errors than a nearer one (e.g., *The helicopter for the flights over the canyon are vs. *The helicopter for the flight over the canyons are; Franck, Vigliocco, & Nicol, 2002). However, the verb tends to agree in number with the nearer noun of a disjoined subject, suggesting that linear order can indeed play a role in agreement computation (e.g., The horse or the clocks are vs. The horses or the clock is; Haskell & MacDonald, 2005). In the present study, two experiments using a two-alternative forced-choice production paradigm and one experiment using eyetracking during reading directly compared agreement computation in the classic attraction configuration and when the subject is a coordinate phrase. The 2AFC experiments replicated both the lack of a linear distance effect in classic attraction and the presence of a linear order effect in disjunction agreement, which was also extended to conjunction agreement; when the second conjunct was singular, subjects frequently selected a singular verb. This order effect was also modulated by the presence or absence of additional material between the subject and verb. In the eyetracking experiment, a singular second conjunct both facilitated processing of a singular verb and inhibited processing of a plural verb. These results suggest that variable agreement with coordinate subjects is not a form of agreement attraction and that distinct theoretical treatments are required for two distinct phenomena.


First Advisor

Adrian Staub