Language can be viewed as a set of cues that modulate the comprehender's thought processes. It is a very subtle instrument. For example, the literature suggests that people perceive direct speech (e.g., Joanne said: 'I went out for dinner last night') as more vivid and perceptually engaging than indirect speech (e.g., Joanne said that she went out for dinner last night). But how is this alleged vividness evident in comprehenders' mental representations? We sought to address this question in a series of experiments. Our results do not support the idea that, compared to indirect speech, direct speech enhances the accessibility of information from the communicative or the referential situation during comprehension. Neither do our results support the idea that the hypothesized more vivid experience of direct speech is caused by a switch from the visual to the auditory modality. However, our results do show that direct speech leads to a stronger mental representation of the exact wording of a sentence than does indirect speech. These results show that language has a more subtle influence on memory representations than was previously suggested.

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Keywords adult, aged, article, auditory stimulation, comprehension, controlled study, female, human, human experiment, interpersonal communication, male, memory, mental function, normal human, reading, response time, speech, task performance, visual stimulation, word recognition
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Journal PLoS ONE
Eerland, A, Engelen, J.A.A, & Zwaan, R.A. (2013). The Influence of Direct and Indirect Speech on Mental Representations. PLoS ONE, 8(6). doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0065480