Dimensions Mediating The Self-Referent Incidental Recall Effect

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Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


Previous research has demonstrated that adjectives judged to be self-referent are recalled better than adjectives judged not to be self-referent or judged in other conditions in an incidental recall paradigm. The present study examined whether dimensions other than the "fit" between stimuli and a schema would predict recall. The dimensions considered were affective quality, affective intensity, importance, and distinctiveness. Subjects judged whether stimuli were self-descriptive or descriptive of a target person (Walter Cronkite). They then rated the words on the dimensions being considered both when applied to themselves and to the target. Discriminant function analyses were employed to retain the idiographic ratings. Results replicated the self-referent incidental recall effect. These results indicated that information that is easily assimilated into an existing cognitive structure is recalled more easily than material which is unrelated to that structure. The failure to find an interaction between the applicability rating and any of the dimensions considered suggests that the self-referent effect occurs independently of these dimensions.


Psychology, Clinical

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