The online processing of only if and even if conditional statements

Implications for mental models

Likan Zhan*, Stephen Crain, Peng Zhou

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

4 Citations (Scopus)


A sentential connective like only if or even if merges two simple propositions into a complex statement. This study used a visual world paradigm experiment to explore how this merging process proceeds online. We first presented participants with a short animation, illustrating different simple propositions that are possible to be merged by the sentential connectives. We then auditorily played an only if or an even if statement and recorded participants' eye movements on the concurrent test image. We observed that hearing the sentential connective results in more fixations on the tokens of the appropriate propositions that are eligible to be merged by the sentential connective. Each sentential connective elicited anticipatory effect suggests that once they heard the sentential connective, participants knew which propositions could be merged. We then discussed the implications of our results to the mental model theory of conditionals and the experimental studies reported in literature.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)367-379
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Cognitive Psychology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 3 Apr 2015


  • Conditionals
  • Even if
  • Mental models
  • Only if
  • Visual world paradigm

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