Accessibility effects on implicit social cognition: The role of knowledge activation and retrieval experiences

Bertram Gawronski*, Galen V. Bodenhausen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

60 Scopus citations


Performance on measures of implicit social cognition has been shown to vary as a function of the momentary accessibility of relevant information. The present research investigated the mechanisms underlying accessibility effects of self-generated information on implicit measures. Results from 3 experiments demonstrate that measures based on response compatibility processes (e.g., Implicit Association Test, affective priming with an evaluative decision task) are influenced by subjective feelings pertaining to the ease of retrieving relevant information from memory, whereas measures based on stimulus compatibility processes (e.g., semantic priming with a lexical-decision task) are influenced by direct knowledge activation in associative memory. These results indicate that the mediating mechanisms underlying context effects on implicit measures can differ as a function of the task even when these tasks show similar effects on a superficial level. Implications for research on implicit social cognition and the ease-of-retrieval effect are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)672-685
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of personality and social psychology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 2005


  • Accessibility
  • Context effects
  • Ease of retrieval
  • Implicit measures
  • Implicit social cognition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science

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