Verbal memory processes in impression formation

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Tested 2 explanations of serial order effects in impression formation in 2 experiments each with 96 undergraduates, using likableness ratings of series of personality-trait adjectives. According to the verbal-memory hypothesis, serial order effects in impressions are due to different strengths of items in memory. Manipulating memory should, therefore, affect primacy or recency in judgments. According to a 2nd hypothesis, however, these manipulations of memory should have no effect on serial order effects in impressions as long as differential attention to items in the series is not altered. Results suggest that manipulations of memory (with attention held constant) do not affect serial order effects in impressions. The usual finding that items early in the series have the highest impact on the overall impression is most parsimoniously explained by the notion that they receive the greatest attention. Results suggest that memories of individual items do not directly mediate impressions but that overall impressions are updated with each new piece of information. (25 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved)

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