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Open Access Publications from the University of California

The functional independence of trait and behavioral self-knowledge: Methodological considerations and new empirical findings

  • Author(s): Klein, SB
  • Babey, SH
  • Sherman, JW
  • et al.

In a series of studies, Klein and Loftus and their colleagues found that people who made self-descriptiveness judgments about trait words were no faster than people who performed a control task to subsequently retrieve behavioral memories about the same traits (e.g., Klein, Loftus, & Burton, 1989; Klein & Loftus, 1990, 1993a, 1993c). Based, in part, on these findings, Klein and Loftus (1993a; Klein, Loftus, & Kihlstrom, 1996) proposed that functionally independent memory systems underlie trait self-descriptiveness judgments and behavioral retrieval. The present studies had two purposes. First, we evaluate recent concerns about whether the control task used by Klein and Loftus provides the proper baseline against which to assess the absence of priming between trait judgments and behavioral retrieval (e.g., Brown, 1993; Keenan, 1993). Second, we present converging evidence from a powerful new technique, Dunn and Kirsner's (1988) method of reversed association, in support of Klein and Loftus's proposal that trait judgments and behavioral retrieval are mediated by functionally independent memory systems.

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