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Overlapping mechanisms in implying and inferring

Rees, Alice and Bott, Lewis 2020. Overlapping mechanisms in implying and inferring. Cognitive Science 44 (1) , e12808. 10.1111/cogs.12808

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Prior psychological work on Gricean implicature has revealed much about how listeners infer (comprehension) but little about how speakers imply (production). This is surprising given the inherent link between the two. This study aimed to obtain a more integral understanding of implicatures by investigating the processes that are shared between inference and implication. In two experiments, a participant and a confederate engaged in a dialogue game that invited the use of implicatures. In each there was a global priming manipulation, in which a confederate predominantly used implicit or explicit utterances, and a local priming manipulation, in which the utterance structure varied from trial to trial. Participants could choose whether to imply or use an explicit expression. Our results revealed that speaker and listener align on their use of implicatures. We interpret the local priming results as providing evidence of shared implicature representations between speaker and listener, and the global priming results as a form of audience design. We also present a model of implicature production that explains our findings.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Psychology
Publisher: Wiley
ISSN: 0364-0213
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 4 February 2020
Date of Acceptance: 14 November 2019
Last Modified: 12 Mar 2020 03:29

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