Generic and Universal Generalisations: Contextualising the ‘Generic Overgeneralisation’ Effect


In this study, we focused on the Generic Overgeneralisation (GOG) effect (Leslie, Khemlani, and Glucksberg 2011) and tested the relevance of context and an explanation based on quantifier domain restriction for the pattern of judgement data observed. Participants judged generic majority characteristic statements like tigers have stripes or statements with universal quantifiers that have different sensitivity to context (‘all’, ‘all the’, ‘each’) preceded by one of three levels of context: a) neutral, where the information in the context does not interact with the truth value of the critical statement, b) contradictory, where it presents an exception which should rule out a universally quantified statement, and c) supportive. Our results suggest that proponents of the generics-as-default view ruled out context prematurely and that in fact context is a viable alternative explanation for much of the so-called GOG effect.

Back to Table of Contents