Quantification and semantic memory

Lance J. Rips*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

33 Scopus citations


Two models are considered for how people verify explicitly quantified sentences, such as All fathers are parents and Some fathers are parents. The models share the same second stage, but have different first-stage mechanisms. In the Predicate Intersection Model, suggested by Meyer (1970), the first stage involves a serial, self-terminating search among names of categories that intersect the predicate category. In the Feature Comparison Model (Smith, Shoben & Rips, 1974a), the first stage involves evaluating the overall relatedness between the subject and predicate categories by comparing their semantic features. To test the models, three reaction time experiments required subjects to verify statements quantified by Some or All. In the first experiment, the semantic relatedness of categories in false Some-statements was varied. Contrary to predictions of the Predicate Intersection Model, related categories increased reaction time for both true and false Some-statements. While the first experiment revealed that All-statements took longer to verify than comparable Some-statements, the second experiment demonstrated that the All-Some difference can be eliminated by presenting both statement types in the same block of trials, also disconfirming the Predicate Intersection Model. Finally, Experiment III examined the meaning of Some-statements in more detail by having subjects interpret the quantifier Some as "some but not all." With this interpretation, Some-statements took longer to verify than All-statements. Overall the results support the Feature Comparison Model.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)307-340
Number of pages34
JournalCognitive Psychology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jan 1 1975

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Artificial Intelligence

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