Learning and memory for personality prototypes
Examined whether personality traits, commonly assumed to be represented in memory as schemata, can be learned from observation. 116 undergraduates participating in 3 studies classified 60 person instances into group members and nonmembers as defined by the instances' match to a complex personality prototype. To simulate learning of fuzzy categories, each person instance provided conflicting cues to group membership. Learning for instances' group membership was excellent across studies. In Study 1, frequency of cues indicating group membership was overestimated among nongroup instances. In Study 2, schema-consistent memory bias was revealed for person instances. In Study 3, schemata of consistently positive memory bias was revealed for person instances. In Study 3, schemata of consistently positive (or negative) traits were learned faster than arbitrary schemata. Findings implicate the frequency sensitivity of memory of W. K. Estes (see record 1986-21175-001), and a model of probabilistic cued-memory retrieval is developed to account for the effects. Findings are discussed in relation to everyday cognitive performance.
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology
American Psychological Association (APA)
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
Mayer, J. D. & Bower, G. H. (1986). Learning and memory for personality prototypes. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 51, 473-492.