Coactivation and comprehension: Contribution of text variables to the illusion of knowing

William Epstein, Arthur M. Glenberg, Margaret M. Bradley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


When a reader's self-assessment of comprehension is high, but an objective assessment reveals that comprehension is faulty, an illusion of knowing has occurred. This illusion is observed when subjects who have been instructed to find contradictions between sentences in an otherwise coherent text fail to do so, but claim comprehension of the text. Three variables intended to modulate the frequency of contradiction detection and hence the illusion of knowing were manipulated. Illusions of knowing were more frequent when the contradictions involved inferences, when the contradictory sentences were in separate paragraphs, and when contradictory sentences used paraphrase to convey the same concepts. These effects are related to an activation account of contradiction detection.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)355-360
Number of pages6
JournalMemory & Cognition
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 1984

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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