An individual-difference perspective applied to word association

Alan W. Stacy*, Barbara C. Leigh, Kenneth Weingardt

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Most cognitive approaches to word association and some theories of social cognition converge on the notion that the performance of repetitive behaviors should predict word association responses. To study this issue, the authors examined the frequencies of free-association responses of 1,003 subjects to ambiguous words, some of which had subdominant senses that were linked to repetitive behaviors (e.g., draft and alcohol use). Results showed that three out of four measures of individual differences in repetitive behaviors significantly predicted responses for words linked to their respective behaviors. Gender, age, and language background were controlled for in these analyses. Although cognitive approaches suggested that an experimental manipulation of item presentation (grouped vs. randomly mixed items) should influence responses, this effect was not significant. Implications are discussed in terms of theories of lexical ambiguity and implicit influences of memory for previous experiences.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)229-237
Number of pages9
JournalPersonality and Social Psychology Bulletin
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1997

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology


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