Category accessibility and social perception: Some implications for the study of person memory and interpersonal judgments

Thomas K. Srull, Robert S. Wyer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

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).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)841-856
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of personality and social psychology
Volume38
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 1980
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • trait category accessibility through priming, subsequent attribution of trait to target person, college students

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science

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