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The role of context in literal, metaphorical and pictorial information processing

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posted on 04.08.2010, 11:34 authored by Maria Victoria Sebastian
One aspect of communication is investigated in this thesis by studying what role context plays in both verbal, either literal or metaphoric sense, and pictorial material. The research is inspired by Bransford and Johnson's (1972) study on cognitive prerequisites for comprehension. It deals with the manipulation of context by pictorial information and/or metaphoric cues. The thesis examines three main questions. First, if context plays an important role in both literal and metaphoric prose. Secondly, if the appropriate context is a function of the material being used. And finally, whether schemata provided by the context are formed only at encoding or, also, at retrieval for metaphoric prose. The data suggested a positive answer to the three main questions. They also showed that, for processing a metaphoric prose, a significant interaction was found between testtime and cue presentation when subjects were presented the text and the pictures at the same time, ( context was manipulated in two ways: presentation of material and cue). When the metaphoric cue was given at encoding, recall performance deteriorated if subjects were tested immediately but it improved over time. On the contrary, when the cue was given at retrieval, the reverse effect was found. It is emphasized how stronger elaborations are needed to process this kind of material as oppose to the processing of literal texts. The role of context in prose processing, either in its literal or metaphoric sense, as well as in pictures is discussed in relation to schema theory and its formation either at encoding or retrieval.


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University of Leicester

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