Memory & Cognition

, Volume 32, Issue 1, pp 96–106 | Cite as

Co-reference and reasoning

  • Clare R. Walsh
  • P. N. Johnson-Laird


Co-reference occurs when two or more noun phrases refer to the same individual, as in the following inferential problem: Mark is kneeling by the fire or he is looking at the TV but not both. / Mark is kneeling by the fire. / Is he looking at the TV? In three experiments, we compared co-referential reasoning problems with problems referring to different individuals. Experiment 1 showed that co-reference improves accuracy. In Experiment 2, we replicated that finding and showed that co-reference speeds up both reading and inference. Experiment 3 showed that the effects of co-reference are greatest when the premises and the conclusion share co-referents. These effects led the participants to make illusory inferences—that is, to draw systematically invalid conclusions. The results are discussed in terms of the mental model theory of reasoning.


Mental Model Wilcoxon Test Noun Phrase Reading Time Explicit Model 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Princeton UniversityPrinceton
  2. 2.Department of Cognitive and Linguistic SciencesBrown UniversityProvidence

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