Contextualizing Counterintuitiveness: How Context Affects Comprehension and Memorability of Counterintuitive Concepts

Cognitive Science 31 (3):415-439 (2007)
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A number of anthropologists have argued that religious concepts are minimally counterintuitive and that this gives them mnemic advantages. This paper addresses the question of why people have the memory architecture that results in such concepts being more memorable than other types of concepts by pointing out the benefits of a memory structure that leads to better recall for minimally counterintuitive concepts and by showing how such benefits emerge in the real‐time processing of comprehending narratives such as folk tales. This model suggests that memorability is not an inherent property of a concept; rather it is a property of the concept, the context in which the concept is presented, and the background knowledge that the comprehendor possesses about the concept. The model predicts how memorability of a concept should change if the context containing the concept were changed. The paper also presents the results of experiments carried out to test these predictions.



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Author Profiles

Ryan Tweney
Bowling Green State University
Donald Jason Slone
Georgia Southern University

References found in this work

Intelligence without representation.Rodney A. Brooks - 1991 - Artificial Intelligence 47 (1--3):139-159.
Relevance.D. Sperber & Deirdre Wilson - 1986 - Communication and Cognition: An Interdisciplinary Quarterly Journal 2.
Remembering.F. C. Bartlett - 1935 - Scientia 29 (57):221.
Abduction, Reason, and Science.L. Magnani - 2001 - Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers.

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