Noticing and revising discrepancies as texts unfold

David N. Rapp, Panayiota Kendeou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Scopus citations


Readers attempt to build coherent representations for what they read, but those representations may fail to capture the actual content of texts. For example, although narrative situations often change dramatically as plots unfold, readers do not necessarily revise what they know to accurately represent the current state of affairs in a text. This study investigated the conditions that might foster revision, and the temporal locus of potential revision activity. In 2 experiments, participants read stories that afforded the opportunity to build trait models of characters. Trait descriptions were either immediately refuted or supported with further evidence. Participants revised their models of characters when provided with causal explanations. They did not revise, however, when previous character information was simply refuted. Revision, when it occurred, was observed immediately after refutations were provided. Whether they revised or not, though, participants appeared to readily notice the discrepancies suggested by refutations. The results of this study further outline the nature of narrative updating, as well as the revision failures that can influence readers' comprehension of unfolding texts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-24
Number of pages24
JournalDiscourse Processes
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2009
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This material is based on work supported by the Institute of Education Sciences Grant R305G040021 and a Faculty Summer Fellowship from the Office of the Dean of the Graduate School at the University of Minnesota awarded to David N. Rapp, as well as a Research and Development mini-grant from the National Science Foundation awarded to David N. Rapp and Panayiota Kendeou. We thank Tuyen Trinh for her assistance with data collection. We are also very grateful to Sid Horton and three anonymous reviewers for their comments on an earlier version of the manuscript.

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