Some sentences prime pragmatic reasoning in the verification and evaluation of comparisons
Shukla, V., Long, M., Bhatia, V., & Rubio-Fernandez, P.
Some sentences prime pragmatic reasoning in the verification and evaluation of comparisons. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 48
(4), 569-582. doi:10.1037/xlm0001082.
While most research on scalar implicature has focused on the lexical scale “some” vs “all,” here we investigated an understudied scale formed by two syntactic constructions: categorizations (e.g., “Wilma is a nurse”) and comparisons (“Wilma is like a nurse”). An experimental study by Rubio-Fernandez et al. (2017) showed high rates of logical responses to superordinate comparisons, even though they are underinformative when interpreted pragmatically (e.g., “A robin is like a bird” implies that a robin is not a bird). Based on recent studies on enrichment priming, we predicted that including “some” and “all” statements (which typically elicit high rates of pragmatic responses) in sentence verification and sentence evaluation tasks would introduce an informativity bias, increasing pragmatic responses to superordinate comparisons. The results of three Web-based experiments supported our predictions, showing that different scalar expressions not only give rise to different rates of scalar implicatures, but can also affect the degree to which an experimental task elicits pragmatic reasoning.