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J Pers Soc Psychol. 1989 Dec;57(6):925-39.

Cognitive organization of impressions: effects of incongruency in complex representations.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, University of California, Santa Barbara 93106.


Two experiments investigated the organization in memory of expectancy-congruent and expectancy-incongruent information pertaining to multiple trait concepts in an impression-formation task. In Experiment 1, when multiple trait concepts were represented in the information describing the target person, both congruent and incongruent items reflecting the same trait concept were stored together and were directly associated in memory, and both types of items were recalled equally well. In Experiment 2, when only one trait concept was represented in the information, incongruent items were recalled with higher probability than congruent items, and the latter were not directly associated in memory. Results suggest that with increasing categorical complexity of stimulus information, processes are invoked that do not occur in simpler impression-formation contexts. Implications for theoretical models of person memory are discussed.

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