Judging the veracity of ambiguous sentences

Peter W. Carey, Jacques Mehler, Thomas G. Bever

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


Eighty Ss saw a picture, heard a sentence, and judged the sentence true or false with respect to the picture. After five unambiguous sentences of a single syntactic structure, and ambiguous sentence was presented. Results for the ambiguous sentence revealed (a) that the ambiguity was most often perceived when both interpretations of the sentence were true with respect to the picture, (b) that response latencies were shortest when both interpretations were false, (c) that Ss who claimed to have seen the ambiguity before responding had longer latencies than those who claimed not to have seen the ambiguity, and (d) that these differences in processing were clear only in Ss' responses to their first ambiguous sentence. A model for the pragmatic and syntactic processes is considered.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)243-254
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Verbal Learning and Verbal Behavior
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1970

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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