How does the word ‘not’ affect your understanding of phrases? | News World

When we’re told “This coffee is hot” upon being served a familiar caffeinated beverage at our local diner or cafe, the message is clear.

But what about when we’re told “This coffee is not hot”? Does that mean we think it’s cold? Or room temperature? Or just warm?

The new study reveals that that phrases that include negation mitigates rather than inverts meaning.

In other words, in our minds, negation merely reduces the temperature of our coffee and does not make it “cold.”

“We now have a firmer sense of how negation operates as we try to make sense of the phrases we process,” explains Arianna Zuanazzi, a postdoctoral fellow in New York University’s psychology department at the time of the study and the lead author of the paper, which appears in the journal PLOS Biology.

“In identifying that negation serves as a mitigator of adjectives—’bad’ or ‘good,’…


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