In 3 experiments the likelihood that a behavior is interpreted in terms of a particular trait category was postulated to be a function of the relative accessibility of that category in memory. 256 undergraduates performed a task designed to activate concepts associated with a particular trait category. Ss then read a description of behaviors that were ambiguous with respect to the primed trait and rated the target person along a variety of trait-related dimensions. When Ss experienced a delay between activation of trait category and acquisition of stimulus information, their ratings of the target with respect to this trait increased with the number of times the category had been activated but decreased with length of delay. When Ss experienced a delay between acquiring information and making judgments, their ratings of the target increased with both number of prior activations and length of delay. None of these effects occurred when the trait category was activated after the information had been interpreted and encoded into memory. Thus, the way in which information is initially encoded into memory often has a profound effect on subsequent judgments of the person to whom the information is relevant. (45 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved).
- trait category accessibility through priming, subsequent attribution of trait to target person, college students
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Social Psychology
- Sociology and Political Science