Semantic and pragmatic aspects of context effects in social and psychological research

Explores the “autonomous” vs the “collaborative” view of language understanding. Two studies illustrate how Ss conceptualize information that is either ambiguous or not semantically ambiguous. 123 university students completed questionnaires that included ambiguous or semantically unambiguous questions. Results show that a preceding question in a questionnaire may determine the interpretation of a subsequent ambiguous question and, as a result, affect the attitudes expressed toward the ambiguous issue. In addition, the perception of whether 2 questions belong together may influence their interpretation. Findings show that principles of social cognition and communication can be applied to both natural conversation and data collection in social and psychological research. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2007 APA, all rights reserved)