Do attitudes affect memory? Tests of the congeniality hypothesis

Alice H. Eagly*, Patrick Kulesa, Serena Chen, Shelly Chaiken

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


Social psychologists have usually hypothesized that attitudinal selectivity biases people's memory in favor of information that is congenial to their attitudes, because they are motivated to defend their attitudes against uncongenial information. However, our meta-analysis found that such effects have been only inconsistently obtained. One reason for these inconsistencies is that the defense of attitudes against attacks does not necessarily entail avoiding the uncongenial information. As shown by our experiments, people often expose themselves of attitudinally uncongenial information, attend to it, scrutinize it carefully, encode it accurately, and remember it fairly well, even though they dislike the information and are not persuaded by it. Given sufficient motivation and capacity, people mount an active defense that enhances memory for the information.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5-9
Number of pages5
JournalCurrent Directions in Psychological Science
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2001


  • Attitudes
  • Congeniality effect
  • Memory
  • Memory for attitude-relevant information

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)


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