Negation in context: evidence from the visual world paradigm

Orenes, I., Moxey, L., Scheepers, C. and Santamaría, C. (2016) Negation in context: evidence from the visual world paradigm. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 69(6), pp. 1082-1092. (doi: 10.1080/17470218.2015.1063675) (PMID:26207955)

108332.pdf - Accepted Version



Literature assumes that negation is more difficult to understand than affirmation, but this might depend on the pragmatic context. The goal of this paper is to show that pragmatic knowledge modulates the unfolding processing of negation due to the previous activation of the negated situation. To test this, we used the visual world paradigm. In this task, we presented affirmative (e.g., her dad was rich) and negative sentences (e.g., her dad was not poor) while viewing two images of the affirmed and denied entities. The critical sentence in each item was preceded by one of three types of contexts: an inconsistent context (e.g., She supposed that her dad had little savings) that activates the negated situation (a poor man), a consistent context (e.g., She supposed that her dad had enough savings) that activates the actual situation (a rich man), or a neutral context (e.g., her dad lived on the other side of town) that activates neither of the two models previously suggested. The results corroborated our hypothesis. Pragmatics is implicated in the unfolding processing of negation. We found an increase in fixations on the target compared to the baseline for negative sentences at 800 ms in the neutral context, 600 ms in the inconsistent context, and 1450 ms in the consistent context. Thus, when the negated situation has been previously introduced via an inconsistent context, negation is facilitated.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Moxey, Dr Linda and Orenes, Miss Isabel and Scheepers, Dr Christoph
Authors: Orenes, I., Moxey, L., Scheepers, C., and Santamaría, C.
Subjects:B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
P Language and Literature > P Philology. Linguistics
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Psychology & Neuroscience
College of Science and Engineering > School of Psychology
Journal Name:Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology
ISSN (Online):1747-0226
Published Online:28 July 2016
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2015 Taylor & Francis
First Published:First published in The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology 69(6): 1082-1092
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher

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