Definite descriptions and semantic memory

Andrew Ortony, Richard C. Anderson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Subjects were exposed to sentences containing "direct" and "indirect" uses of names and definite descriptions. On a subsequent recognition test incorrect rejections tended to be of sentences involving indirect uses, and false alarms to sentences involving direct uses. This finding is contrary to the predictions of models that suggest indiscriminate substitution of names for descriptions, as do those of Anderson and Bower, and Rumelhart and Norman. The implication is that models of semantic memory must incorporate distinct intensional and extensional representations to avoid semantic distortion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)74-83
Number of pages10
JournalCognitive Science
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1977

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Artificial Intelligence


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