We investigated the effects of readers’ goals on inference generation and memory for expository text. College students (N = 82) read texts for the purpose of either study or entertainment. On-line inference generation was recorded via think-aloud procedures, and off-line memory was assessed via free recall. Reading goal strongly influenced inferential activity: Readers with a study goal produced more coherence-building (i.e., backward/explanatory and forward/predictive) inferences, whereas readers with an entertainment goal produced more associations and evaluations. These differences were associated with superior memory for the texts in the study condition. The results indicate that inference generation during reading is partly strategic and is influenced systematically by reading purpose. We propose that reading goals influence readers’standards of coherence, which in turn influence the types of inferences that they draw and the final memory representations that they construct.
Black, J. B., &Bower, G. H. (1980). Story understanding as problem solving.Poetics,9, 223–250.
Brannon, K. A. (1998).The effects of reading goals on inference construction. Unpublished master’s thesis, University of Kentucky.
Coté, N. A., Goldman, S. R., &Saul, E. (1998). Students making sense of informational text: Relations between processing and representation.Discourse Processes,25, 1–53.
Ericsson, K. A., &Simon, H. (1993).Protocol analysis: Verbal reports as data. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Goldman, S. R., & Bisanz, G. (in press). Toward a functional analysis of scientific genres: Implications for understanding and learning processes. In J. Otero, J. A. León, & A. C. Graesser (Eds.),The psychology of science text comprehension. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.
Goldman, S. R., &Varma, S. (1995). CAPping the construction-integration model of discourse comprehension. In C. A. Weaver, S. Mannes, & C. R. Fletcher (Eds.),Discourse comprehension: Essays in honor of Walter Kintsch (pp. 337–358). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.
Graesser, A. C. (1981).Prose comprehension beyond the word. New York: Springer-Verlag.
Graesser, A. C., Singer, M., &Trabasso, T. (1994). Constructing in ferences during narrative text comprehension.Psychological Review,101, 371–395.
Hacker, D. J. (1998). Self-regulated comprehension during normal reading. In D. J. Hacker, J. Dunlosky, & A. C. Graesser (Eds.),Metacognition in educational theory and practice (pp. 165–191). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.
Just, M. A., &Carpenter, P. A. (1992). A capacity theory of comprehension: Individual differences in working memory.Psychological Review,99, 122–149.
Keenan, J. M., Baillet, S. D., &Brown, P. (1984). The effects of causal cohesion on comprehension and memory.Journal of Verbal Learning & Verbal Behavior,23, 115–126.
Kintsch, W. (1988). The role of knowledge in discourse comprehension: A construction-integration model.Psychological Review,95, 163–182.
Kintsch, W. (1992). How readers construct situation models for stories: The role of syntactic cues and causal inferences. In A. F. Healy, S. M. Kosslyn, & R.M. Shiffrin (Eds.),Essays in honor of WilliamK. Estes: Vol. 2. From learning processes to cognitive processes (pp. 261–278). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.
Kintsch, W., &van Dijk, T. A. (1978). Toward a model of text comprehension and production.Psychological Review,85, 363–394.
Lee-Sammons, W.H., &Whitney, P. (1991). Reading perspectives and memory for text: An individual differences analysis.Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, & Cognition,17, 1074–1082.
Long, D. L., &Bourg, T. (1996). Thinking aloud: Telling a story about a story.Discourse Processes,21, 329–339.
Lorch, R. F., Jr.,Klusewitz, M. A., &Lorch, E. P. (1995). Distinctions among reading situations. In R. F. Lorch, Jr., & E. J. O’Brien (Eds.),Sources of coherence in text comprehension (pp. 374–398). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.
Lorch, R. F., Jr.,Lorch, E. P., &Klusewitz, M. A. (1993). College students’ conditional knowledge about reading.Journal of Educational Psychology,85, 239–252.
Lorch, R. F., Jr.,Lorch, E. P., &Matthews, P. D. (1985). On-line processing of the topic structure of a text.Journal of Memory & Language,24, 350–362.
Lorch, R. F., Jr.,Lorch, E. P., &Mogan, A.M. (1987). Effects of reading task on on-line processing of a text’s topic structure.Discourse Processes,10, 63–80.
McKoon, G., &Ratcliff, R. (1992). Inference during reading.Psychological Review,99, 440–466.
Myers, J. L., &O’Brien, E. J. (1998). Accessing the discourse representation during reading.Discourse Processes,26, 131–157.
Narvaez, D., van den Broek, P., &Ruiz, A. B. (1999). The influence of reading purpose on inference generation and comprehension in reading.Journal of Educational Psychology,91, 488–496.
Noordman, L. G.M., Vonk, W., &Kempff, H. F. (1992). Causal inferences during the reading of expository texts.Journal of Memory & Language,31, 573–590.
Oakhill, J. (1994). Children’s differences in text comprehension. In M. A. Gernsbacher (Ed.),Handbook of psycholinguistics (pp. 821–848). San Diego: Academic Press.
Perfetti, C. A. (1994). Psycholinguistics and reading ability. In M. A. Gernsbacher (Ed.),Handbook of psycholinguistics (pp. 849–894). San Diego: Academic Press.
Pressley, M., &Afflerbach, P. (1995).Verbal protocols of reading: The nature of constructively responsive reading. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.
Schmalhofer, F., &Glavanov, D. (1986). Three components of understanding a programmer’s manual: Verbatim, propositional, and situational representations.Journal of Memory & Language,25, 279–294.
Singer, M., Graesser, A.C., &Trabasso, T. (1994). Minimal or global inference during reading.Journal of Memory & Language,33, 421–441.
Smith, J. K. (1967). The responses of good and poor readers when asked to read for different purposes.Reading Research Quarterly,3, 53–83.
Stein, N. L., &Trabasso, T. (1985). The search after meaning: Comprehension and comprehension monitoring. In F. J. Morrison, C. Lord, & D. Keating (Eds.),Applied developmental psychology (Vol. 2, pp. 33–58). San Diego: Academic Press.
Trabasso, T., &Magliano, J. (1996). Conscious understanding during text comprehension.Discourse Processes,21, 255–288.
Trabasso, T., Secco, T., &van den Broek, P.W. (1984). Causal cohesion and story coherence. In H. Mandl, N. L. Stein, & T. Trabasso (Eds.),Learning and comprehension of text (pp. 83–111). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.
van den Broek, P. (1994). Comprehension and memory for narrative texts: Inferences and coherence. In M. A. Gernsbacher (Ed.),Handbook of psycholinguistics (pp. 539–588). San Diego: Academic Press.
van den Broek, P. (1997). Discovering the cement of the universe: The development of event comprehension from childhood to adulthood. In P. van den Broek, P. Bauer, & T. Bourg (Eds.),Developmental spans in event comprehension and representation: Bridging fictional and actual events (pp. 321–342). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.
van den Broek, P., &Fletcher, C. R., &Risden, K. (1993). Investigations of inferential processes in reading: A theoretical and methodological integration.Discourse Processes,16, 169–180.
van den Broek, P., Risden, K., &Husebye-Hartmann, E. (1995). The role of readers’ standards for coherence in the generation of inferences during reading. In R. F. Lorch, Jr., & E. J. O’Brien (Eds.),Sources of coherence in text comprehension (pp. 353–373). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.
van den Broek, P., Tzeng, Y., Risden, K., Trabasso, T., &Basche, P. (2001). Inferential questioning: Effects on comprehension of narrative texts as a function of grade and timing.Journal of Educational Psychology,93, 521–529.
van den Broek, P., Virtue, S., Gaddy, M., Sung, Y., & Tzeng, Y. (in press). Comprehension and memory of science texts: Inferential processes and the construction of a mental representation. In J. Otero, J. León, & A. C. Graesser (Eds.),The psychology of science text comprehension. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.
van den Broek, P., Young, M., Tzeng, Y., &Linderholm, T. (1999). The landscape model of reading: Inferences and the on-line construction of a memory representation. In H. van Oostendorp & S. R. Goldman (Eds.),The construction of mental representations during reading (pp. 71–98). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.
Walker, C. H., &Meyer, B. J. F. (1980). Integrating different types of information in text.Journal of Verbal Learning & Verbal Behavior,19, 263–275.
Zwaan, R. A. (1994). Effects of genre expectations on text comprehension.Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, & Cognition,20, 920–933.
Zwaan, R.A., &Brown, C. M. (1996). The influence of language proficiency and comprehension skill on situation-model construction.Discourse Processes,21, 289–327.
Zwaan, R. A., Magliano, J., &Graesser, A. C. (1995). Dimensions of situation model construction in narrative comprehension: An eventindexing model.Psychological Science,6, 292–297.
This research was supported by the Center for Cognitive Sciences at the University of Minnesota through a grant from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (HD-07151), by the Guy Bond Endowment for Reading and Literacy, and by a Golestan fellowship at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities and Social Sciences to the first author.
About this article
Cite this article
van den Broek, P., Lorch, R.F., Linderholm, T. et al. The effects of readers’ goals on inference generation and memory for texts. Memory & Cognition 29, 1081–1087 (2001). https://doi.org/10.3758/BF03206376
- Free Recall
- Inference Generation
- Reading Task
- Text Comprehension
- Discourse Process