Processing inferences drawn from the logically equivalent frames half full and half empty

Joanne Ingram*, Christopher J. Hand, Linda M. Moxey

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Choice-based experiments indicate that readers draw sophisticated inferences from logically equivalent frames. Readers may infer that a glass was previously full if described as currently half empty, and previously empty if described as currently half full. The information leakage framework suggests these inferences are made because information about a previous state is leaked from speaker's choice of frame. We examine if similar inferences are made during reading in two eye-tracking experiments. In Experiment 1, participants read a passage where a character describes a glass as currently half full or half empty before making a statement about the previous volume. We hypothesised that participants would infer that the glass was previously empty or full, respectively. Results suggest processing a previous volume of full is simpler regardless of the frame provided. In Experiment 2, materials were constructed to ensure inferences were based on participants' beliefs as opposed to characters'. Results support the information leakage framework; previous volumes of full and empty were processed more easily after current volumes of half empty and half full, respectively. We suggest that processing discrepancies between the two experiments are driven by word-related factors (e.g., markedness) or by participants' integration of characters' expectations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)799-817
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Cognitive Psychology
Issue number7
Early online date18 Sep 2014
Publication statusPublished - 3 Oct 2014


  • eye movements
  • framing
  • inference


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