You are not using a standards compliant browser. Because of this you may notice minor glitches in the rendering of this page. Please upgrade to a compliant browser for optimal viewing:
Internet Explorer 7
Safari (Mac and PC)
Press Release
True or false? How our brain processes negative statements

Thanks to Association for Psychological Science for this article.

This press release was posted to serve as a topic for discussion. Please comment below. We try our best to only post press releases that are associated with peer reviewed scientific literature. Critical discussions of the research are appreciated. If you need help finding a link to the original article, please contact us on twitter or via e-mail.

This press release has been viewed 12008 time(s).


Guest Comment
Thu, Feb 12, 2009, 8:49 pm CST
This is absurd. How much money was wasted on research to tell us that double negative statements are not the best form of communication? Seriously. We have been trained since early school that double negative statements are incorrect. And the reason? Oh my who would have thought! it's because the statement contradicts itself! and the brain has to compensate for this horrible grammatical calamity that was slapped onto it.

Guest Comment
Thu, Feb 12, 2009, 10:31 pm CST
Hang on, there, Todd. Double negatives are acceptable grammatical structures in other languages, including Russian, Afrikaans, Hebrew, Greek and even in English prior to the 18th century. This raises a natural question: do these results translate to other languages? Plus, this research isn't really about weather your speech should include double negatives or not, these researchers are decoding how the brain actually works. That's not a waste of money, it's how science is done. It's finding out things that were not known before. Usually, that's a big plus for everyone, even if you can't come up with an immediate practical application.

Guest Comment
Thu, Feb 12, 2009, 11:16 pm CST
Ok professor,
This is what I know about other languages. They don't help me in English. I also know that language imposes limits on thought. Eastern languages allow for concepts that western minds can't describe.
The study is neat. Interesting. Helpful to the point of game changing breakthroughs? No. This was never mentioned by anyone, but I am going to the extreme.
I just think that when scientists set out to prove that common sense is actually correct it is, well, funny.
To be shocked to see people irked at this study is similarly funny.
Oh, and the fact that the article's title is a combination true false question, but then makes a statement is also funny.


Guest Comment
Fri, Feb 13, 2009, 11:14 am CST
This IS an important study, because it focuses on the truth-value of a word and how it can be undermined by falsification. Much of the political and legal rhetoric that we are faced with take advantages of these psychological tricks to make us believe we are agreeing to or accepting certain propositions that (if explained in plain english) we would reject. The tricks of speechcraft and political double-talk (not to mention Orwellian Newspeak, famous for its "double-ungoods" and multiplied negations) are the first line of attack for our political freedoms, because they get us to agree to those things which we simply cannot properly understand.

Great study! Keep 'em coming!
tim Parsons

Guest Comment
Fri, Feb 13, 2009, 11:43 am CST

Someone who isn't not myself won't never use un-bad grammar for reading this anti-unhelpful article.


Guest Comment
Fri, Feb 13, 2009, 12:37 pm CST
The problem I have with this is that they really didn't learn anything new. If you structure a sentence to sound positive but slip in a negative, it confuses the receiver. If you deliver a statement that confirms an expected belief in a way that assumes that the belief was not expected, it confuses the receiver. In other words, for a sentence to be useful, easily understood and considered informative, it has to be assume correctly the prior belief, structured to signal the contradiction, and delivered with as few modifiers as is practical.

I wonder if they tested the reverse.

Brian Krueger, PhD
Columbia University Medical Center
Rate Post:

Like 0 Dislike
Fri, Feb 13, 2009, 2:55 pm CST
I wonder if they tested the reverse.

I e-mailed the researchers and asked them to stop by to answer some questions.

Guest Comment
Mon, Feb 16, 2009, 2:11 am CST
The word "very" should be taken out of the vitamin example sentence. It introduces a whole new thing - degrees of negative. They are supposed to be studying negative. Do over.
Add Comment?
Comments are closed 2 weeks after initial post.