Surface Forms, Textbases, and Situation Models: Recognition Memory for Three Types of Textual Information

Charles R. Fletcher, Susan T. Chrysler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

94 Scopus citations


It has recently been argued that memory for a text or discourse consists of three separate representations: a surface representation, a propositional textbase, and a situation model. This tri-partite division is supported by a recognition memory procedure that demonstrates that (a) subjects can reliably differentiate between sentences actually read and meaning preserving paraphrases of those sentences, (b) performance improves when the distractors also differ at the propositional level but are consistent with the situation described by the text, (c) recognition is best when the distractors are inconsistent with all three levels of representation. These data are subject to alternative interpretations because all changes within a level of representation may not be equal and inferences based on one level of representation may be responsible for differences attributed to another. A series of control experiments eliminates these alternatives.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)175-190
Number of pages16
JournalDiscourse Processes
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1990

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research wassupported bytheCenter for Research in Learning, Perception, andCognition at the University of Minnesota; by a faculty research grant from the University of Minnesota Graduate School; and by grant MH42468-01 from the National Institute of Mental Health. We are grateful to Bert Wilson and Laura Reitz, whocollected much of the data, and to Charlie Bloom, Paul vanden Broek, and two anonymous reviewers for their comments on an earlier draft of the paper.


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