In this chapter, we have identified some of the inferences that are generated when readers construct situation models for narrative text. We have also identified the knowledge structures and processing mechanisms that furnish these knowledge- based inferences. These mechanisms of inference generation and situation model construction are far less mysterious today than they were 15 years ago, so we believe the field has shown some signs of progress.
When some of us began investigating knowledge-based inferences 15 years ago, there were colleagues who warned us that we may be going down the primrose path. The skeptics pointed out that most world knowledge is open-ended, imprecise, ill-defined, and vague, so the whole enterprise would end up sinking in quicksand. The skeptics urged us to concentrate on language comprehension mechanisms that were better understood and computationally specified, such as the construction of syntactic code and the explicit textbase. We chose to ignore the skeptics and attempt to unravel the mysteries of constructing situation models. Fortunately, we have managed to construct a working edifice and avoid getting buried in quicksand. We owe an enormous debt to Walter Kintsch, whose pioneering models provided the platform.
This research was funded by contracts awarded to Arthur C. Graesser by the Office of Naval Research (N00014-88-0110 and N00014-90-J-1492). We would like to thank Bill Baggett, Eugenie Bertus, and Joe Magliano for their help throughout this project. We would also like to thank Randy Fletcher, Gail McKoon, and an anonymous reviewer for their comments on an earlier draft of this chapter.
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Publication information: Book title: Discourse Comprehension:Essays in Honor of Walter Kintsch. Contributors: Charles A. Weaver III - Editor, Suzanne Mannes - Editor, Charles R. Fletcher - Editor, Walter Kintsch - Editor. Publisher: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Place of publication: Hillsdale, NJ. Publication year: 1995. Page number: 136.
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