A Social Identity Approach to Person Memory: Group Membership, Collective Identification, and Social Role Shape Attention and Memory

Jay J. van Bavel, William A. Cunningham

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Evidence indicates that superior memory for own-group versus other-group faces (termed own-group bias) occurs because of social categorization: People are more likely to encode own-group members as individuals. The authors show that aspects of the perceiver's social identity shape social attention and memory over and above mere categorization. In three experiments, participants were assigned to a mixed-race minimal group and showed own-group bias toward this minimal group, regardless of race. Own-group bias was mediated by attention toward own-group faces during encoding (Experiment 1). Furthermore, participants who were highly identified with their minimal group had the largest own-group bias (Experiment 2). However, social affordances attenuated own-group bias-Memory for other-group faces was heightened among participants who were assigned to a role (i.e., spy) that required attention toward other-group members (Experiment 3). This research suggests that social identity may provide novel insights into person memory.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1566-1578
Number of pages13
JournalPersonality and Social Psychology Bulletin
Volume38
Issue number12
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2012

Keywords

  • attention
  • categorization
  • identification
  • intergroup
  • memory
  • social identity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology

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