The cognitive representation of persons and groups and its effect on recall and recognition memory

Robert S. Wyer*, Galen V. Bodenhausen, Thomas K. Srull

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

73 Scopus citations


A conceptualization of the manner in which trait and behavioral information is organized in memory is proposed and applied in predicting both the recall and recognition of information about persons and groups. Three information presentation conditions were considered: (1) Subjects are told to form an impression of a target (person or group) on the basis of the target's behaviors, and are given a trait-based concept of what the target is like before learning about these behaviors. (2) Subjects are told to form an impression of the target, but a general traitbased concept of the target is not induced until after they learn about the target's behaviors. (3) Subjects receive information about the target's behaviors with instructions to remember the information, and only subsequently are told to form an impression and are given more general information about the target's traits. The proposed model accounted for between-condition differences in both the recall and recognition of behaviors that were consistent and inconsistent with a general trait-based concept of the target, and for contingencies of these differences on whether the target was a single person or a group.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)445-469
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Experimental Social Psychology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1984


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science

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