Ryzhova, Margarita; Mayn, Alexandra; Demberg, Vera

What inferences do people actually make upon encountering informationally redundant utterances? An individual differences study

Proceedings of the 45th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society (CogSci 2023), 45, Sydney, Australia, 2023.

Utterances mentioning a highly predictable event are known to elicit atypicality inferences (Kravtchenko and Demberg, 2015; 2022). In those studies, pragmatic inferences are measured based on typicality ratings. It is assumed that comprehenders notice the redundancy and „repair“ the utterance informativity by inferring that the mentioned event is atypical for the referent, resulting in a lower typicality rating. However, the actual inferences that people make have never been elicited. We extend the original experimental design by asking participants to explain their ratings and administering several individual differences tests. This allows us to test (1) whether low ratings indeed correspond to the assumed inferences (they mostly do, but occasionally participants seem to make the inference but then reject it and give high ratings), and (2) whether the tendency to make atypicality inferences is modulated by cognitive factors. We find that people with higher reasoning abilities are more likely to draw inferences.