Data_Sheet_2_Context Breeds False Memories for Indeterminate Sentences.pdf (192.95 kB)
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Data_Sheet_2_Context Breeds False Memories for Indeterminate Sentences.pdf

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posted on 12.03.2021, 04:10 authored by Levi Riven, Roberto G. de Almeida

What are the roles of semantic and pragmatic processes in the interpretation of sentences in context? And how do we attain such interpretations when sentences are deemed indeterminate? Consider a sentence such as “Lisa began the book” which does not overtly express the activity that Lisa began doing with the book. Although it is believed that individuals compute a specified event to enrich the sentential representation – yielding, e.g., “began [reading] the book” – there is no evidence that a default event meaning is attained. Moreover, if indeterminate sentences are enriched, it is not clear where the information required to generate enriched interpretations come from. Experiment 1 showed that, in isolation, there is no default interpretation for indeterminate sentences. The experiment also showed that biasing contexts constrain event interpretations and improve plausibility judgments, suggesting that event representations for indeterminate sentences are generated by context. In Experiment 2, participants heard biasing discourse contexts and later falsely recognized foil sentences containing the biased events (“Lisa began reading the book”) at the same proportion and with the same confidence as the original indeterminate sentence (“Lisa began the book”). We suggest that indeterminate sentences trigger event-enriching inferences but only in sufficiently constraining contexts. We also suggest that indeterminate sentences create two memory traces, one for the proposition consistent with the denotational, compositional meaning, and another for the proposition that is enriched pragmatically over time.

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