Person memory: Personality traits as organizing principles in memory for behaviors

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In 3 experiments, a total of 96 undergraduates studied and recalled sentences describing behaviors while performing a laboratory impression-information task. Recall was high for behaviors that were incongruent with a personality-trait impression for a character, whereas recall was much lower for behaviors that were congruent or neutral with reference to the impression. Set size, the number of congruent and incongruent behaviors attributed to the character, was shown to be a major determinant of this result. The smaller the size of the incongruent set, the higher the probability of recalling an item from the set. There was no tendency for behaviors to cluster by trait category in recall output protocols. This result is interpreted as evidence that a simple analogy to hierarchical noun categories, studied in many verbal learning experiments on organization of memory, did not apply to the present results. Three theoretical analyses–an associative network model, a depth-of-processing model, and a schema model–are reviewed in light of these results. (56 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved)

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