The comprehension and verification of ambiguous sentences

Donald J. Foss, Thomas G. Bever, Maury Silver

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Scopus citations


When Ss are presented with an ambiguous sentence they tend to interpret it in only one way. If later events warrant, Ss can recover the other meaning, a process which takes time. These conclusions follow from the results of a study in which 40 undergraduate Ss verified whether or not pictures shown at the end of a sentence represented the meaning of the sentence. When ambiguous sentences were presented, the verification time (VT) was no slower than for unambiguous sentences if the picture represented the "expected" meaning (as determined on a pre-test) of the ambiguity. The VT to the picture representing the "unexpected" meaning of the ambiguity was longer than VT to corresponding control sentences.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)304-306
Number of pages3
JournalPerception & Psychophysics
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1968

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Sensory Systems
  • General Psychology


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