Testing pragmatic inferences: The impact of language and culture

Paula Carneiro 1 , Ana Lapa 1 , Júlia Reis 2  and Tânia Ramos 2 , 3
  • 1 Faculdade de Psicologia, Universidade de Lisboa, Portugal
  • 2 Faculdade de Psicologia, Universidade de Lisboa, Portugal
  • 3 New York University,


Pragmatic inferences are one way to study false memories in real-world situations. We aimed to investigate variances in responses to pragmatic implication sentences between Portuguese and American data, presenting, for the first time, normative data of cued recall and recognition for pragmatic implication sentences in Portuguese. In Study 1 we analyzed cued-recall data for Portuguese pragmatic sentences. The proportions of cued- recall for correct and inference responses of each sentence did not significantly correlate with the values of American normative data. In Studies 2a and 2b we analysed forced-recognition data for pragmatic sentences, one with American participants and English sentences (Study 2a) and the other with Portuguese participants and Portuguese sentences (Study 2b). Moreover, two conditions of sentences presentations were applied to eventually detect an influence of the sentences’ format, which was not find in both studies. The levels of recognition for correct and inferences were very similar between those two studies but the correlation, sentence by sentence, was low. Together, these results suggest an important recommendation for further studies - normed material for a specific language/culture is a crucial factor to be considered when conducting research on pragmatic inferences.

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