Prior research has shown that different sources of knowledge activation may combine to trigger transference, the phenomenon whereby a significant-other representation is activated and used to interpret a new person, as assessed in terms of representation-consistent memory about the person (Andersen, Glassman, Chen, & Cole, 1995). The central prediction of the present study was that increasing levels of applicability sources of activation would produce corresponding increases in the extent to which significant-other representations are activated and used in social perception, combining with the previously documented chronic accessibility of these representations (Andersen et al., 1995). Applicability levels were manipulated in terms of the degree of featural overlap between a target person and a perceiver's significant-other representation. Across all six applicability levels examined, greater representation-consistent memory was seen on the basis of a significant-other representation relative to several control representations, including a stereotype representation. This finding converges with prior evidence for the chronic readiness of significant-other representations to be activated and used (Andersen et al., 1995). No reliable effects for increasing levels of applicability were found. Methodological and theoretical accounts for the lack of applicability effects are discussed, raising important issues that we hope shed light, and provoke much needed future research, on the role of applicability in knowledge activation and use.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Social Psychology
- Developmental and Educational Psychology