The Influence of Direct and Indirect Speech on Mental Representations

A. Eerland*, JAA Engelen, RA Zwaan

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


    Language can be viewed as a set of cues that modulate the comprehender’s thought processes. It is a very subtle instrument. For example, the literature suggests that people perceive direct speech (e.g., Joanne said: ‘I went out for dinner
    last night’) as more vivid and perceptually engaging than indirect speech (e.g., Joanne said that she went out for dinner last night). But how is this alleged vividness evident in comprehenders’ mental representations? We sought to address this question in a series of experiments. Our results do not support the idea that, compared to indirect speech, direct speech enhances the accessibility of information from the communicative or the referential situation during comprehension.
    Neither do our results support the idea that the hypothesized more vivid experience of direct speech is caused by a switch from the visual to the auditory modality. However, our results do show that direct speech leads to a stronger mental
    representation of the exact wording of a sentence than does indirect speech. These
    results show that language has a more subtle influence on memory representations than was previously suggested.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article numbere65480
    Number of pages9
    JournalPLOS ONE
    Issue number6
    Publication statusPublished - 12 Jun 2013


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