Date of Award

Spring 2005

Project Type


Program or Major


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

First Advisor

Edward J O'Brien


Past research has demonstrated that predictive inferences are difficult to detect when distracting material is present (Klin, Guzaman, & Levine, 1999b). The experiments in this dissertation were designed to explore both how and why distracting material influences the availability of predictive inferences.

Participants were presented with passages containing either a neutral introduction or a distractor introduction followed by an inference-evoking sentence or a control sentence. In Experiment 1, activation of predictive inferences was detected with a naming task, but not in the presence of distracting information. In Experiments 2 and 3, there was no evidence of activation of a "distractor" inference when using either a naming or reading task. In Experiment 4, there was evidence of activation of predictive inferences when the amount of distracting information was reduced, suggesting that elaboration of distracting material interferes with the ability to detect activation of predictive inferences. Finally, the results from Experiment 5 indicated that it is only related distracting information the interferes with activation of predictive inferences. The results are interpreted within the memory-based view of text processing and the resonance model.