Negative sentences implicitly refer to two states of affairs: the negated state of affairs and the actual state of affairs. The present study investigated whether the negated state of affairs was represented when processing negative sentences. By exploring the effects of the types of negation (contradictory and non-contradictory) and delays (250 and 1,500 ms) on the processing of negative sentences in a sentence–picture verification task, two experiments indicated that the negated state of affairs of negation was not always represented unconditionally. In addition, types of negation, rather than time delays, had a significant influence on the processing of negative sentences. For contradictory negations, the actual state of affairs rather than the negated state of affairs was available, even when the delay between the sentence and picture was short. In contrast, the negated state of affairs was represented for non-contradictory negations, even with a long delay.
- The one-step model
- The two-step model