Discourse Comprehension

Rolf A. Zwaan*, David N. Rapp

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

88 Scopus citations


Most notably, comprehension necessitates the application of prior knowledge in combination with the encoding of information currently in discourse focus. Comprehension requires building connections between those events and existing representations in memory. For example, the situations described in the first two riddles take place in chronological order and are temporally contiguous. The elephant was put in the refrigerator first; unless the elephant is removed, the giraffe cannot be stored in the fridge. To answer the riddle, the reader must connect these two situations. Comprehenders routinely assume that consecutively described events take place in the order in which they are described, and that no unmentioned event will have occurred between them. Thus, the two events should be connected with each other and, given expectations about chronological order; those events should be assigned a predictable temporal association. In fact, a growing body of evidence suggests that comprehenders routinely and/or strategically keep track of protagonists, objects, locations, and events to build useful associations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationHandbook of Psycholinguistics
Number of pages40
ISBN (Electronic)9780123693747
StatePublished - Jan 1 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities(all)
  • Social Sciences(all)
  • Psychology(all)


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