Scalar implicatures under uncertainty

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Agyemang, Cathy Yaa




Studies on judgments under uncertainty argue that individuals reason about the likelihoods of events in ways that are inconsistent with the basic axioms of probability. However, such studies fail to consider that the information expressed can be ambiguous between literal and strengthened meanings, through scalar implicatures. Under a literal interpretation, intuitive judgments may appear to violate the rules of probability. However, scalar implicatures change meanings, such that, probability theory alone does not determine how people make judgments. Instead, individuals rely on experience, prior knowledge and other cognitive factors. I examine the availability of scalar implicatures under uncertainty and its influence on perceived event likelihood. Comparing contexts where an implicature is available to where it is not, I present evidence that violations of probability theory occur only in conditions where scalar implicatures are available. Thus, probabilistic judgments must also consider how individuals apply conversational reasoning in order to resolve uncertainty.


Psychology - Cognitive




Carleton University

Thesis Degree Name: 

Master of Cognitive Science: 

Thesis Degree Level: 


Thesis Degree Discipline: 

Cognitive Science

Parent Collection: 

Theses and Dissertations

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