A new look at the ‘Generic Overgeneralisation’ effect

Dimitra Lazaridou Chatzigoga, Linnaea Stockall, Napoleon Katsos

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7 Citations (Scopus)


While generic generalisations have been studied by linguists and philosophers for decades, they have only recently become the focus of concentrated interest by cognitive and developmental psychologists, who propose the generics-as-default view. In this paper we focus on the ‘Generic Overgeneralisation’ (GOG) effect proposed by Leslie and colleagues and the native speaker judgments that have been used to support it, and by extension, the generics-as-default view. We take a step back to look at the history of the GOG effect in order to contextualise it. We review existing experimental evidence and discuss four non-mutually exclusive explanations for the GOG effect: ignorance, subkind interpretation, atypical behaviour of all and quantifier domain restriction. We conclude that a closer look at the semantics and pragmatics of generics and universal quantifiers may provide a more nuanced explanation for the pattern of judgment data than that proposed by the generics-as-default view.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInquiry-An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Externally publishedYes

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