Journal of Semantics 7 (3):221-244 (1990)

The cognitive resolution of references depends on whether an anaphor has previously been mentioned in the antecedent text or whether a relation between the anaphor and the antecedent has to be constructed by means of an inference. This inference process in comparison with a mere concept repetition produces an increase in reading and comprehension time. In the present paper aspects of this processing difference are examined. Recognition data are used in addition to reading and comprehension times in order to compare the mental representations generated by the different processes. Experiment I shows that the differences in processing time not only depend on the repetition of the concept, but are also produced by varying the semantic distance between concepts. Differences in recognition performance were not observed, indicating that the resulting text representations were similar on a semantic level. In Experiment 2 the point of time of the inference process during text processing was determined by a word-by-word presentation. The results show that the inference process starts immediately after the reception of the critical reference concept and ends with the completion of the proposition. Finally, Experiment 3 examines whether inference processes are different after specification or generalization of a previously mentioned concept. Here the inference effect occurs with specification rather than generalisation. The recognition data indicate that it is questionable whether an inference process takes place when a concept is generalised
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DOI 10.1093/jos/7.3.221
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