Multiple Behavior Descriptions Affect the Acquisitions of STI and STT

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Abstract

Four studies pursued the idea that spontaneous trait inferences (STIs) involve the formation of both inferential knowledge and associative knowledge while spontaneous trait transferences (STTs) involve only the formation of associative knowledge. These studies varied the type and amount of behavioral information from which perceivers could extract trait information. Experiments 1a and 1b used a modified savings-in-relearning paradigm and demonstrated that repeated presentations of an individual and a behavior description increased the strength of association between the target and implied trait, and this effect did not depend on whether the repeated presentations involved redundant information or new information. In comparison, Experiments 2a and 2b used a trait ratings dependent variable and demonstrated that the effects of repetition were stronger for STI, but not STT, when the added information differed from information that was previously encountered, but not when it was redundant with the previously encountered information.

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