There is extensive evidence that readers continually validate discourse accuracy and congruence, but that they may also overlook conspicuous text contradictions. Validation may be thwarted when the inaccurate ideas are embedded sentence presuppositions. In four experiments, we examined readers’ validation of presupposed (“given”) versus new text information. Throughout, a critical concept, such as a truck versus a bus, was introduced early in a narrative. Later, a character stated or thought something about the truck, which therefore matched or mismatched its antecedent. Furthermore, truck was presented as either given or new information. Mismatch target reading times uniformly exceeded the matching ones by similar magnitudes for given and new concepts. We obtained this outcome using different grammatical constructions and with different antecedent–target distances. In Experiment 4, we examined only given critical ideas, but varied both their matching and the main verb’s factivity (e.g., factive know vs. nonfactive think). The Match × Factivity interaction closely resembled that previously observed for new target information (Singer, 2006). Thus, readers can successfully validate given target information. Although contemporary theories tend to emphasize either deficient or successful validation, both types of theory can accommodate the discourse and reader variables that may regulate validation.
Memory & Cognition – Springer Journals
Published: Dec 2, 2016
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