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Content-Based Inferences in Text

Elsevier Science & Technology
DOI: 10.1016/s0079-7421(08)60251-0
  • Logic


Publisher Summary This chapter describes different kinds of inferences people make when reading a narrative and whether these inferences become an integral part of the narrative representation in memory. Some types of inference are found to be useful in comprehending event-based narratives. Increase in reading time is found when goal, plan, and action statements are omitted from the text but not when state inferences are omitted. Similarly, a recognition memory test yields high false alarm rates for goal, plan, and action inferences but not for states, demonstrating that the suggested inferences are incorporated in memory with information explicitly stated in the texts. These results indicate that goal, plan, and action inferences are likely to be made during reading and become a part of the memory representation that is indistinguishable from explicit information. Thematic concepts represent particular patterns of goal, plan, and event relationships. The results from thematic experiments indicate that subjects are sensitive to thematic patterns and are able to use the thematic information in judgments of similarity. The reader's goals are important in determining what information is relevant and in selecting candidate material for further inference.

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