Reconstructing the past: Some cognitive consequences of person perception

Mark Snyder, Seymour W. Uranowitz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

247 Scopus citations

Abstract

Investigated systematic retrospective distortions of past events precipitated by one's current beliefs about another individual. 212 undergraduates read an extensive narrative about the life of a woman named Betty K. Either immediately after reading the case history or 1 wk later, some participants learned that she was currently living a lesbian life-style; others learned that she was currently living a heterosexual life-style; still others learned nothing about her life-style. The impact of this new information on recognition memory for factual events in Betty K.'s life was assessed 1 wk after reading the case history. Ss selectively affirmed events that supported and bolstered their current interpretations of Betty K. Performance was the same whether Ss learned this information immediately after reading the case history or 1 wk later. Additional evidence suggests that these results are best characterized as the product of an interaction between stereotyped beliefs about sexuality and genuine memory for factual events. Implications of these findings for the nature, function, and consequences of social knowledge are discussed. (31 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)941-950
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of personality and social psychology
Volume36
Issue number9
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 1 1978

Keywords

  • person perception, memory for factual events & impact of new information & role of stereotypes in processing, college students

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