Abstract: Individual differences in situation-based inferencing during narrative text comprehension

HAENGGI, D., GERNSBACHER, M. A., & BOLLIGER, C. M. (1993). Individual differences in situation-based inferencing during narrative text comprehension. In H. van Oostendorp & R. A. Zwaan (Eds.), Naturalistic text comprehension : Vol. LIII. Advances in discourse processing (pp. 79-96). Norwood, NJ: Ablex.

Consistent with current models of text comprehension (e.g., Gernsbacher, 1990; Kintsch; 1988), a variety of research has shown that readers integrate their previously stored knowledge with information provided by a text to construct a mental representation of the situation described In the text (Johnson-Laird, 1983; van Dilk & Kintsch, 1983). These mental representations, often called situational models, have been distinguished from two other levels of text representations. On the most superficial level, a surface representation captures the verbatim record of word sequences (Fletcher, 1992), and the text base represents the semantic content of a text as a hierarchically organized list of propositions (Kintsch, 1986). The third representational level, the situational model, represents the perceptible features of corresponding objects in the world, and as such it transcends both the verbal surface form and the propositional text base. Since situations described in naturally occurring texts, such as narratives, are often indeterminate, the comprehension process extends beyond the construction of a coherent text base; readers often must rely on resources such as previously stored knowledge. In other words, readers must draw inferences to fully comprehend a narrative. We propose that readers draw Inferences based on the situational models they construct during comprehension. The present study investigates how readers draw inferences that are frequently drawn from naturalistic text: spatial and emotional inferences.