On the relation between spontaneous trait inferences and intentional inferences: An inference monitoring hypothesis

Mário B. Ferreira, Leonel Garcia-Marques, David Hamilton, Tania Ramos, James S. Uleman, Rita Jeronimo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

More than twenty five years after the beginning of research on spontaneous trait inferences (Winter & Uleman, 1984) an intriguing paradox in the impression formation literature remains: if traits are spontaneously inferred, why aren't they used to organize behavioral information and thereby facilitate recall under memory instructions (Hamilton, Katz, & Leirer, 1980)? We hypothesized that organization by traits is more evident under impression formation goals because only in that case then are inferences sufficiently monitored to permit their use in organizing impressions. As a consequence, such monitored traits can then be used strategically as retrieval cues. Merging the main features of the Winter and Uleman and the Hamilton et al. experimental paradigms, Experiment 1 simultaneously replicated the main results of both studies. Using a new recognition paradigm, Experiments 2 and 3 further tested this inference monitoring hypothesis by showing that monitoring of trait inferences only occurs under particular processing goals, and is dependent on the availability of cognitive resources.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Experimental Social Psychology
Volume48
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2012

Keywords

  • Automatic
  • Cognitive load
  • Impression formation inference monitoring
  • Intentional
  • PDP
  • Spontaneous trait inference

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science

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