Do All Eagles Fly High? The Generic Overgeneralization Effect: The Impact of Fillers in Truth Value Judgment Tasks

Abstract

The generic overgeneralization effect is an attested tendency to accept false universal generalizations such as “all eagles fly” or “all snakes lay eggs” as true. In this paper, we discuss the generic overgeneralization effect demonstrated by Polish adult speakers. We asked 313 native speakers of Polish to evaluate universal quantified generalizations such as “all eagles fly” or “all snakes lay eggs” as true or false. The control group of 107 respondents provided data on the acceptance rates of the corresponding generic generalizations such as “eagles fly” or “snakes lay eggs”. By determining the impact of test fillers on the participants’ acceptance rates, the study aimed to identify the scope of the generic overgeneralization effect. We manipulated four conditions: the universal negative, positive, neutral, and generic control conditions. The results showed significant differences between the first two conditions, but neither the negative nor the positive condition differed from the neutral one. The overall acceptance rates of universal statements were 63% for the negative condition, 49% for the positive condition, 55% for the neutral condition, and 90% for the control group. Overall, the participants accepted universal quantified statements at high rates even when they were prompted to reject them. The results may be interpreted as another piece of evidence in support of the generic overgeneralization effect.

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