Kagan maintains that an infant’s reactions to its first stressful experiences are part of a natural process of development, not harbingers of childhood unhappiness or _________ signs of adolescent anxiety.

A prophetic B normal C monotonous D virtual E typical


The sentence contrasts the infant’s reactions, part of a normal developmental process, with future unhappiness and anxiety. The missing word describes signs of adolescent anxiety as they relate to the infant. Choice A is correct: “prophetic” signs, like har - bingers, foretell future occurrences, and for the infant, adolescent anxiety is a future occurrence. Since an infant cannot literally display signs of adolescent anxiety, “normal,” “monotonous,” and “typical” are all incorrect. And “virtual” is incorrect, because virtual signs are not real signs, and what Kagan is denying is that the infant’s reactions are not real signs of later unhappiness. Thus the correct answer is prophetic (Choice A).

I feel the last line in the explanation of the above question is incorrect. I understood that what Kagan is denying is that "Infant's reactions are real signs of future unhappiness", but it states what Kagan is denying is that "Infant's reactions are not real signs of future unhappiness".

Can anyone please explain what is wrong in my understanding?

PS: I understood the reasoning behind the answer. I am only concerned regarding the last line of the question.

  • What "question 2". Please don't use images for large blocks of text. Also can you write a better question title that summarises the content of the question "is this correct" doesn't tell us what the question is about.
    – James K
    Commented Aug 28, 2019 at 18:49
  • Sorry. I made the changes.
    – shiva
    Commented Aug 28, 2019 at 19:00
  • 1
    The premise of the explanation is completely faulty. Of course an infant can display signs of adolescent anxiety. They can't be literally experiencing them, but the outward behaviour could be the same. If a robot moves its mouth into a what looks like a grin, it can be described as displaying signs of happiness, despite the fact that it has no actual emotions. If the objection is the interpretation of the word signs, that's entirely subjective—and it has no basis as an assumption on a test. (Unless there is more context than has been described.) Commented Aug 29, 2019 at 0:48

1 Answer 1


You’re correct. The author of the explanation got tripped up by the double negation (denying that ... are not).

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