Unintended Effects of Goals on Unintended Inferences

James S. Uleman, Gordon B. Moskowitz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Three studies investigated unintended effects of goals on spontaneous trait inferences (STIs). Ss read trait-implying sentences to memorize them, to analyze sentence features, or to make social judgments. Cued recall revealed unintended (spontaneous) trait and behavioral-gist inferences. They were equally frequent with all the social judgment goals and absent or infrequent with feature analysis goals. Memorizing the sentences while ignoring their meaning reduced, but did not eliminate, STIs. Goals also affected whether traits were linked directly to actors in explicit memory. Social inferences can occur without intentions or awareness, even when meanings are intentionally ignored, as incidental results of analyzing stimulus details, and as intermediate but unnoticed results of other social judgments. Goals affect these inference likelihoods.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)490-501
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of personality and social psychology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1994

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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