Item Details

Understanding the Role of Context on Memory for Maximally Counterintuitive Concepts

Issue: (0) Advance Access to forthcoming issue 5.2 (2017/2019)

Journal: Journal for the Cognitive Science of Religion

Subject Areas: Religious Studies Cognitive Studies Linguistics

DOI: 10.1558/jcsr.39064


The current study examined how contextual information, defined asinformation represented at the level of the situation model, influencedmemory for minimally and maximally counterintuitive stories. Thefirst two experiments investigated whether the presence of explicitinstructions to make sense of "strange information" in the storiesinfluenced memory for maximally counterintuitive stories. Althoughno such effect was observed, post hoc analyses indicated that maximallycounterintuitive stories that support a global inference that integratesthe counterintuitive ideas are better recalled compared to storiesthat do not support such an inference. A third experiment was conductedto directly test the "global-inference" hypothesis. The resultsfrom the three experiments highlight the significant role of inferentialprocessing in the integration of counterintuitive ideas, especially formaximally counterintuitive studies.

Author: Mary Harmon-Vukić, M. Afzal Upal

View Original Web Page

References :

Albrecht, Jason, Edward O’Brien, Robert Mason and Jerome L. Myers. 1995. “The Role of Perspective in the Accessibility of Goals during the Processing of Narrative Text.” Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition 21: 364372.

Anderson, John R. 1974. “Retrieval of Propositional Information from Long-Term Memory.” Cognitive Psychology 6: 451474.

Barrett, Justin L. 2000. “Exploring the Natural Foundations of Religion.” Trends in Cognitive Sciences 4(1): 2934.

---. 2008. “Coding and Quantifying Counterintuitiveness in Religious Concepts: Theoretical and Methodological Reflections.” Method and Theory in the Study of Religion 20: 308338.

Barrett, Justin L. and Melanie A. Nyhof. 2001. “Spreading Non-Natural Concepts: The Role of Intuitive Conceptual Structures in Memory and Transmission of Cultural Materials. Journal of Cognition and Culture 1(1): 69100.

Bering, Jesse M. 2011. The Belief Instinct: The Psychology of Souls, Destiny, and the Meaning of Life. New York: Norton.

Boyer, Pascal. 1994. The Naturalness of Religious Ideas: A Cognitive Theory of Religion. Berkeley: University of California Press.

---. 2003. “Religious Thought and Behaviour as By-Products of Brain Function.” Trends in Cognitive Sciences 7: 119124.

Boyer, Pascal and Charles Ramble. 2001. “Cognitive Templates for Religious Concepts.” Cognitive Science 25: 535564.

Calvo, Manuel and M. Dolores Castillo. 1996. “Predictive Inferences Occur On-Line, but with Delay: Convergence of Naming and Reading Times.” Discourse Processes 22: 5778.

Cook, Anne E., John Limber and Edward J. O’Brien. 2001. “Situation-Based Context and the Availability of Predictive Inferences.” Journal of Memory and Language 44(2): 220234.

Fincher-Kiefer, Rebecca. 1995. “Relative Inhibition Following the Encoding of Bridging and Predictive Inferences.” Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition 21(4): 981995.

Fincher-Kiefer, Rebecca. 2001. “Perceptual Components of Situation Models.” Memory and Cognition 29: 336343.

Gonce, Lauren O., M. Afzal Upal, D. Jason Slone and Ryan Tweney. 2006. “The Added Role of Context in the Recall of Counterintuitive Concepts.” Journal of Cognition and Culture 6(3/4): 521554.

Graesser, Arthur, Murray Singer and Thomas Trabasso. 1994. “Constructing Inferences During Narrative Text Comprehension.” Psychological Review 101: 371395.

Halldorson, Michael and Murray Singer. 2002. “Inference Processes: Integrating Relevant Knowledge and Text Information.” Discourse Processes 34: 145–161.

Harmon-Vukić, Mary. E. 2015. “Towards an Empirical Approach to Understanding Counterintuition, the Supernatural, and the Divine.”  Religion, Brain, and Behavior 5: 5053.

Harmon-Vukić, Mary. E., Sabine Guéraud, Karla A. Lassonde and Edward J. O’Brien. 2009. “The Activation and Instantiation of Instrumental Inferences.” Discourse Processes 46: 467490.

Harmon-Vukić, Mary. E. and D. Jason Slone. 2009. “The Effect of Integration on Recall of Counterintuitive Stories.” Journal of Cognition and Culture 9(1-2): 5768.

Harmon-Vukić, Mary E., M. Afzal Upal and Kelly J. Sheehan. 2012. “Understanding the Memory Advantage of Counterintuitive Concepts.” Brain, Behavior, and Religion 2(2): 121139.

Huff, Marcus, Tino G.K. Meitz and Frank Papenmeier. 2014. “Changes in Situation Models Modulate Processes of Event Perception in Audio-Visual Narratives.” Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition 39: 1003–1015.

Johnson, Dominic D. P. and Jesse Bering. M. 2006. “Hand of God, Mind of Man: Punishment and Cognition in the Evolution of Cooperation.” Evolutionary Psychology 4: 219–233.

Johnson-Laird, Philip N. 1983. Mental Models: Towards a Cognitive Science of Language, Inference and Consciousness. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Lawson, E. Thomas and Robert McCauley. 2002. “The Cognitive Representation of Religious Ritual Form: A Theory of Participants’ Competence with Their Religious Ritual System.” In Current Approaches to the Cognitive Study of Religion, edited by Ilkka Pyysiäinen and Veikko Anttonen, 153176. London: Continuum.

Millis, Keith and Joseph Magliano. 1999. “The Co-Influence of Grammatical Markers and Reader Goals on the Memory for Short Discourse.” Journal of Memory and Language 183198.

Murray, John D., Celia Klin and Jerome L. Myers. 1993. “Forward Inferences in Narrative Text.” Journal of Memory and Language 32: 464473.

Myers, Jerome L., Edward J. O’Brien, David Balota and Maria L. Toyofuku. 1984. “Memory Search without Interference: The Role of Integration.” Cognitive Psychology 16: 217242.

O’Brien, Edward J. and Jason E. Albrecht. 1991. “The Role of Context in Accessing Antecedents in Text.” Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition 17(1): 94102.

O’Brien, Edward J., Dolores M. Shank, Jerome L. Myers and Keith Rayner. 1988. “Elaborative Inferences during Reading: Do They Occur On-line?” Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition 14(3): 410420.

Purzycki, Benjamin G. and Aiyana K. Willard. 2014. “MCI Theory: A Critical Discussion.” Religion, Brain, and Behavior 6: 207248.

Pyysiäinen, Ilkka, and Marc Hauser. 2010. “The Origin of Religion: Evolved Adaptation or By-Product?” Trends in Cognitive Science 14(3): 104109.

Rouder, Jeffrey N. and Julia M. Haaf. 2018. “Power, Dominance, and Constraint: A Note on the Appeal of Different Design Traditions.” Advances in Methods and Practices in Psychological Science 1(1): 1926.

Schroeder, Sascha, Tobias Richter and Inga Hoever. 2008. “Getting a Picture That Is Both Accurate and Stable: Situation Models and Epistemic Validation.” Journal of Memory and Language 59: 237–255.

Singer, Murray. 1993. “Global Inferences of Text Situations.” Discourse Processes 16(1-2): 161168.

Singer, Murray, Arthur Graesser and Thomas Trabasso. 1994. “Minimal or Global Inference during Reading.” Journal of Memory and Language 33: 421441.

Sperber, Daniel. 1996. Explaining Culture: A Naturalistic Approach. Oxford: Blackwell.

Sosis, Richard and Candace A. Alcorta. 2003. “Signaling, Solidarity, and the Sacred: The Evolution of Religious Behavior.” Evolutionary Anthropology 12: 264274.

Stadtler, Marc, Lisa Scharrer, Timo Skodzik and Rainer Bromme. 2014. “Comprehending Multiple Documents on Scientific Controversies: Effects of Reading Goals and Signaling Rhetorical Relationships.” Discourse Processes 51: 93–116.

Trabasso, Thomas and So Y. Suh. 1993. “Understanding Text: Achieving Explanatory Power Coherence Through Online Inferences and Mental Operations in Working Memory.” Discourse Processes 16: 3–34.

Upal, M. Afzal. 2005. “Towards a Cognitive Science of New Religious Movements.” Journal of Cognition and Culture 5(2): 214239.

---. 2010. “An Alternative Account of the Minimally Counterintuitiveness Effect.” Cognitive Systems Research 11(2): 194203.

Upal, M. Afzal, Lauren Gonce, Ryan Tweney and D. Jason Slone. 2007. “Contextualizing Counterintuitiveness: How Context Affects Comprehension and Memorability of Counterintuitive Concepts.” Cognitive Science 31(3): 415439.

van den Broek, Paul, Robert F. Lorch Jr., Tracey Linderholm and Mary Gustafson. 2001. “The Effects of Readers’ Goals on Inference Generation and Memory for Texts.” Memory and Cognition 29: 1081–1087.

van Dijk, Teun A. 2006. “Discourse, Context, Cognition.” Discourse Studies 8(1): 159177.

van Dijk, Teun A. and Walter Kintsch. 1983. Strategies of Discourse Comprehension. New York, NY:Academic Press.

Voland, Eckart and Wulf Schiefenhövel, eds. 2009. The Biological Evolution of Religious Mind and Behavior. Berlin, Germany: Springer.

Whitehouse, Harvey. 2004. Modes of Religiosity and the Cognitive Theory of Religious Transmission. Walnut Creek, CA: Altamira Press.

Zhang, Hao and Rumjahn Hoosain. 2005. “Activation of Themes During Narrative Reading.” Discourse Processes 40: 5782.

Zwaan, Rolf A., Joseph Magliano and Arthur C. Graesser. 1995. “Dimensions of Situation Model Construction in Narrative Comprehension.” Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition 21: 386397.

Zwaan, Rolf A. and Gabriel Radvansky. 1998. “Situation Models in Language Comprehension and Memory.” Psychological Bulletin 123(2): 162185.