In this article, a method is described for studying personality differences in the spontaneous encoding of complex information about others, and is illustrated in a study of authoritarianism (F). Two sets of sentences were developed in pretesting. In the first set, events suggested a consensual disposition for each sentence actor to either high F (HF) or low F (LF) subjects. In the second set, events suggested a different consensual disposition to HF and LF subjects. Then 77 HF and LF subjects read both sets of sentences for a "memory study." Consensual dispositions and semantic associates to the actors were used to cue recall. For the first set, there was a significant interaction between subject type, sentence type, and cue type. LF dispositions were more effective retrieval cues for LF than for HF subjects. Subjects had very little accurate awareness of having made trait inferences. No significant effects were found for HF cues alone or for the second sentence set. Results indicated that HF and LF subjects differ in their spontaneous social inferences about others and have little awareness of making these inferences. Implications for integrating trait and cognitive approaches to personality are discussed.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Social Psychology
- Sociology and Political Science