Article

Political Behavior

, Volume 13, Issue 2, pp 165-189

Memory for political actors: Contrasting the use of semantic and evaluative organizational strategies

  • Kathleen M. McGrawAffiliated withDepartments of Political Science and Psychology, SUNY at Stony Brook
  • , Neil PinneyAffiliated withDepartments of Political Science and Psychology, SUNY at Stony Brook
  • , David NeumannAffiliated withDepartments of Political Science and Psychology, SUNY at Stony Brook

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Abstract

This paper explores the organizational strategies used to represent information about political actors in memory, and it illustrates the usefulness of a specific measure, the adjusted ratio of clustering score (ARC), for inferring memory structure. Assuming the operation of an associative network model, we argue that information about a political actor can be organized along three distinct dimensions: attribute type (differentiating between issue positions and personal attributes), partisanship (differentiating between characteristics typical of Republicans and Democrats), and evaluative type (differentiating between positively and negatively evaluated attributes). The results of a laboratory study indicate that organization along the attribute type dimension was most common, with some evidence of partisan organization. There was no evidence of organization along the evaluative dimension. The implications of the study for understanding individual differences in political reasoning, and the consequences of memory organization strategies, are discussed.