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On the Formation of Interitem Associative Links in Person Memory


This research examined the formation of interbehavior associative links in memory in an impression formation task. As subjects read a series of expectancy-congruent, -incongruent, and -irrelevant behaviors describing a target person, they were periodically probed with a recognition task. Across two experiments and four trait replications, recognition latencies for previously encountered behaviors were faster when this task followed the presentation of an incongruent item than when it followed a congruent or irrelevant item. These results demonstrate that the encoding of incongruent information causes previously encountered information to be activated and brought into working memory. This process is most likely responsible for the formation of the interbehavior links between incongruent behaviors and other behaviors that cause incongruent behaviors to be recalled particularly well. A third experiment demonstrated that these results are dependent on subjects′ ability to attend carefully to the incongruent behaviors during encoding. These results provide support for a previously untested assumption of current models of person memory. © 1994 Academic Press, Inc.

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