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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.
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