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Title:Alternative Organizations in Memory for Trait-Relevant Behaviors
Author(s):Gordon, Sallie Elizabeth
Department / Program:Psychology
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Psychology, Social
Abstract:Some theories of person memory have assumed that social behaviors are hierarchically organized in memory in terms of trait concepts. In the research paradigm commonly used to test these theories, adjectives describing the traits are presented before the behaviors, and the behaviors usually have little in common other than the abstract trait concepts. This paradigm may bias subjects towards using a trait-based organization that they may not use under other circumstances.
The first experiment investigated this possibility. Trait adjectives were not presented, and the stimulus behaviors were relevant to two possible organizing factors; traits and situations. After being instructed to form an impression of the person or of the situation in which the behaviors occurred, subjects were presented behaviors that were either equally or unequally distributed over traits and situations. After an intervening task, subjects were given a free recall test. It was proposed that if the behaviors were organized by trait "categories", increasing the number of behaviors pertaining to that trait would decrease the likelihood of recalling behaviors pertaining to that trait (a negative set size effect). A similar effect was hypothesized regarding situation categories.
Results revealed better recall under person impression than situation impression instructions, but an increase in the number of behaviors recalled as the number of category-related behaviors increased. Two alternative models were proposed to account for these data: a hierarchical organization model and an independent storage model.
To assess these explanations, a second experiment was conducted: (a) trait or situation categories were or were not provided before stimulus behaviors, (b) traits or situation categories were or were not presented as retrieval cues, and (c) the situational factor was or was not built into the materials.
Results revealed poorer recall when situations were deleted from the material, and a decrease in recall of behaviors as a function of the number of pertaining to a category. Also, conditional recall was greater as a function of situational categories but not trait categories. Overall, the independent storage model was found to be better able to account for the data than was the hierarchical model.
Issue Date:1982
Description:107 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1982.
Other Identifier(s):(UMI)AAI8209577
Date Available in IDEALS:2014-12-15
Date Deposited:1982

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