Inference during reading

Psychol Rev. 1992 Jul;99(3):440-66. doi: 10.1037/0033-295x.99.3.440.


Most current theories of text processing assume a constructionist view of inference processing. In this article, an alternative view is proposed, labeled the minimalist hypothesis. According to this hypothesis, the only inferences that are encoded automatically during reading are those that are based on easily available information, either from explicit statements in the text or from general knowledge, and those that are required to make statements in the text locally coherent. The minimalist hypothesis is shown to be supported by previous research and by the results of several new experiments. It is also argued that automatically encoded minimalist inferences provide the basic representation of textual information from which more goal-directed, purposeful inferences are constructed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Attention*
  • Concept Formation*
  • Humans
  • Mental Processes
  • Mental Recall
  • Reaction Time
  • Reading*
  • Semantics