Plausibility and the comprehension of text


MRC Applied Psychology Unit, 15 Chaucer Road, Cambridge CB2 2EF, UK.


Implausible versions of stories were constructed by a panel of judges who filled in sentence frames from the originals from which all but the referring phrases had been deleted. In one condition each judge completed a sentence frame independently, resulting in a highly implausible story; in another condition each judge saw the two previous completed sentence frames before filling in a sentence frame, resulting in a mildly implausible story. Both versions had the same referential structure as the original. Two experiments showed that the more implausible a text, the harder it was to understand and remember. The results confirm the importance of plausibility in the construction of a mental model of a text.