Context breeds false recognition for indeterminate sentences.


Context breeds false recognition for indeterminate sentences.

Riven, Levi (2011) Context breeds false recognition for indeterminate sentences. Masters thesis, Concordia University.

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Over the last decade, there has been considerable debate concerning the processes governing the comprehension of indeterminate sentences such as (A) Lisa began the book, and how they come to be understood as something like (B) Lisa began reading the book. A major theme in this debate concerns the role of context in facilitating comprehension. Research shows that the costs associated with processing indeterminate expressions (e.g., McElree et al., 2001) are attenuated when these sentences are preceded by a sufficiently supporting context (de Almeida, 2004). A plausible explanation for this observation is that context facilitates comprehension by activating knowledge in support of inferential processes. This view lies in contrast to the coercion hypothesis, for which indeterminate sentences are enriched by default as a function of retrieving internal properties of the nominal book (Pustejovsky, 1995). In the present study, we employed a discourse-based sentence recognition paradigm (Sachs, 1967), investigating whether a strongly biasing context facilitates comprehension of indeterminate sentences. Our goal was to determine whether the interpretation of indeterminate sentences is facilitated by context manipulations that tap into inferential processes rather than constituent features of the complement noun. We found that participants (N = 72) drew systematic inferences from the context to the extent that they recognized sentences such as (B) from the discourse, when in fact, they were only exposed to indeterminate sentences such as (A). These results were obtained when proposed elements of the coercion hypothesis were experimentally and statistically controlled, suggesting that context facilitates comprehension of indeterminate sentences by triggering pragmatic inferences.

Divisions:Concordia University > Faculty of Arts and Science > Psychology
Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Authors:Riven, Levi
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:M.A.
Date:30 July 2011
Thesis Supervisor(s):de Almeida, Roberto G.
Keywords:false memory; sentence processing; discourse processing; indeterminacy; coercion; enrichment; pragmatic inferences
ID Code:15110
Deposited By:LEVI RIVEN
Deposited On:21 Nov 2011 11:17
Last Modified:21 Nov 2011 11:17
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