Self-relevance effects and label choice: Strong variations in label-matching performance due to non-self-relevant factors
Merely associating one’s self with a stimulus may be enough to enhance performance in a label-matching paradigm (Sui, He, & Humphreys, 2012), implying prioritized processing of self-relevant stimuli. For instance, labeling a square as SELF and a circle as OTHER yields speeded performance when verifying square-SELF compared with circle-OTHER label matches. The precise causes of such effects are unclear. We propose that prioritized processing of label-matches can occur for reasons other than self-relevance. Here, we employ the label-matching paradigm to show similar benefits for non-self-relevant labels (SNAKE, FROG, and GREG) over a frequently employed, non-self-relevant control label (OTHER). These benefits suggest the possibility that self-relevance effects in the label-matching paradigm may be confounded with other properties of labels that lead to relative performance benefits, such as concreteness. The size of self-relevance effects may be overestimated in prior work employing the label-matching paradigm, which calls for greater care in the choice of control labels to determine the true magnitude of self-relevance effects. Our results additionally indicate the possibility of a powerful effect of concreteness (and related properties) on associative memory performance.
KeywordsAssociative learning Self-relevance Self-identification Concreteness Label matching
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