The role of control processes and structural constraints in models of memory and social judgment

Thomas K. Srull, Robert S. Wyer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Six experiments examining a recent model of memory and social judgment are reported. In particular, the theoretical concept of a Work Space is examined in terms of both its structural properties and a variety of control processes that govern its operation. In Experiment 1, subjects were given information about a stimulus person and told that they would later be asked to recall it as well as possible. The length of the actual delay before recall and the length of the anticipated delay were factorially varied. Under short delay conditions, subjects anticipating a short delay recalled more of the information than those anticipating a long delay. The reverse was true under actual long delay conditions. Other results suggest that the anticipated length of the delay has an effect on processes related to both encoding and storage/retrieval. Experiments 2 and 3 demonstrate that, relative to no delay conditions, a long actual delay or a long anticipated delay produces polarization in social judgments. Both of these results are predicted by the model. Experiments 4-6 examine the effect of interpolated cognitive activity on memory and social judgment. As predicted by the model, relatively complicated cognitive activity leads to lower levels of recall and a greater polarization of judgments than less complicated intervening cognitive activity. It is argued that all of these results can be accounted for by the concept of a Work Space as a temporary repository devoted to the current information processing activities of the subject. It is thought that such a concept must be kept theoretically distinct from long-term memory. Implications of the results for models of memory and social judgment are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)497-521
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Experimental Social Psychology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 1983

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


Dive into the research topics of 'The role of control processes and structural constraints in models of memory and social judgment'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this