Situation-Based Inferences During Narrative Comprehension

Daniel G. Morrow, Gordon H. Bower, Steven L. Greenspan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This chapter describes situation-based inferences that readers make during narrative comprehension and the distinction between text-based inferences and situation-based inferences. Text-based inferences are backward directed in the sense that readers apparently do not draw these inferences at the time they are invited by a sentence; but the inferences are only drawn later when they are required to connect together subsequent sentences into a coherent text base. Situation-based inferences differ from text-based inferences in at least two ways. First, in addition to aiding text coherence, situation-based inferences are used to understand the writer's intended situations. That is, readers are likely to use background knowledge whenever they assume the writer intended them to use this knowledge to understand the situations. In other words, background knowledge is used as a first rather than a last resort when it is a salient part of the common ground between reader and writer. Second, situation-based inferences are directed forward rather than backward, because readers tend to draw them as these inferences are implied as relevant to the described situations rather than later as they become necessary for coherence. The chapter discusses three experiments that underline the importance of situation-based inferences for understanding narratives.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)123-135
Number of pages13
JournalPsychology of Learning and Motivation - Advances in Research and Theory
Issue numberC
StatePublished - Jan 1 1990
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


Dive into the research topics of 'Situation-Based Inferences During Narrative Comprehension'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this