Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology (PhD)

Degree Level



Psychological Science


William H. Levine

Committee Member

Douglas A. Behrend

Second Committee Member

Ellen W. Leen-Feldner


Literature, Psychology, Activation, Negation, Pragmatics, Reading, Representation


Research on the activation of negated concepts has demonstrated situations in which negated concepts are less active than non-negated concepts (e.g., MacDonald & Just, 1989) as well as situations where negated and non-negated concepts are equally active (e.g., Autry & Levine, 2012, in press). Based on the pragmatic inference hypothesis (Levine & Hagaman, 2008), the present experiments tested the hypothesis that the activation level of negated concepts is a function of the context in which they occur. In two experiments, the activation level of target concepts was measured following licensing or non-licensing contexts using lexical decision and reading times. Although Experiment 1 suggested that subjects inferred the target concept in the licensing contexts more than in the non-licensing contexts, Experiment 2 did not find the predicted evidence of a differential negation effect in licensing and non-licensing contexts. These findings suggest that licensing does not affect the activation of negated concepts.