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Experiment Author: Adapted from STEP and used with permission of Brian MacWhinney
Participants are given sentences and then asked to recognize them later. The sentences imply certain things, and participants tend to be more likely to remember the implications than the original sentences themselves. For instance, given that someone threw a rock at a window, people will remember that he broke the window, rather than that he threw a rock.
The experiment is separated into two sections. The first section randomly selects a sentence from a list of 28 samples. The sentence remains visible until the participant responds by pressing SPACE on their keyboard. There is a prompt below every sentence to press SPACE when finished reading the sentence. All 28 samples are shown in a randomly selected order.
The second section of the experiment presents 4 similar sentences at the same time and asks participants to recall which sentence was the one shown during the previous section. Participants use a keyboard to respond using keys 1, 2, 3, or 4. Only one selection is possible.
Brewer, W.F. (1977). Memory for the pragmatic implications of sentences. Memory & Cognition, 5, 673-678.
Cited Experiment Abstract
A sentence pragmatically implies another sentence when information in the first sentence leads the hearer to expect something that is neither explicitly stated nor necessarily implied by the original sentence. Thus, The safe-cracker put the match to the fuse pragmatically implies The safe-cracker lit the fuse. In a cued recall task with sentences containing pragmatic implications, 19% of the items were recalled correctly while 26% of the responses consisted of the pragmatic implications of the original sentences. The data were interpreted as demonstrating the strong interaction of the subjects' long-term knowledge with the episodic memory for sentences task.
Works Cited by the Study
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Barclay, J.R. The role of comprehension in remembering sentences. Cognitive Psychology, 1973, 4, 229-254.
Bartlett, F.C. Remembering. London: Cambridge University Press, 1932.
Black, M. Presupposition and implication. In S. Uyeda (Ed.), A way to the philosophy of science. Tokyo: Waseda University Press, 1958. (Reprinted in M. Black, Models and metaphors. Ithaca: Cornell, 1962.)
Bransford, J.D., Barclay, J.R., & Franks, J.J. Sentence memory: a constructive versus interpretive approach. Cognitive Psychology, 1972, 3, 193-209.
Bransford, J.D., & McCarrell, N.S. A sketch of a cognitive approach to comprehension: Some thoughts about understanding what it means to comprehend. In W.B. Weimer & D.S. Palermo (Eds.), Cognition and the symbolic processes. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum, 1974.
Brewer, W.F., & Lichtenstein, E.H. Recall of logical and pragmatic implications in sentences with dichotomous and continuous antonyms. Memory & cognition, 1975, 3, 315-318.
Halliday, M.A.K., & Hasan, R. Cohesion in English. London: Longman, 1976.
Harris, R.J. Memory and comprehension of implications and inferences of complex sentences. Journal of Verbal Learning and Verbal Behavior, 1974, 13, 626-637.
Harris, R.J., & Monaco, G.E. The psychology of pragmatic implication: Information processing between the lines. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, in press.
Johnson, M.K., Bransford, J.D., & Solomon, S.K. Memory for tacit implications of sentences. Journal of Experimental Psychology, 1973, 98, 203-205.
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Kiparsky, P., & Kiparsky, C. Fact. In M. Bierwisch, & K.E. Heidolph (Eds.), Progress in linguistics. The Hague: Mouton, 1970.
Lakoff, R. If's, and's, and but's about conjunction. In C.J. Fillmore & D.T. Langendoen (Eds.), Studies in linguistic semantics. New York: Holt, Rinehart, & Winston, 1971.
Moeser, S.D. Inferential reasoning in episodic memory. Journal of Verbal Learning and Verbal Behavior, 1976, 15, 193-212.
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Schweller, K.G., Brewer, W.F., & Dahl, D.A. Memory for illocutionary forces and perlocutionary effects of utterances. Journal of Verbal Learning and Verbal Behavior, 1976, 16, 325-337.
Thieman, T.J., & Brewer, W.F. Alfred Binet on memory for ideas. Genetic Psychology Monographs, in press.
STEP: The Abstraction of Linguistic Ideas 
Study Recall 
STEP: Emotional Content Recall 
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