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.
- Cognitive load
- Impression formation inference monitoring
- Spontaneous trait inference
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Social Psychology
- Sociology and Political Science