Understanding Impression Formation: What Has Memory Research Contributed?

  • David L. Hamilton

Abstract

At some point in the future, those who comment on the shifting tides in the history of social psychology will view the current era as quite remarkable. As we are all well aware, social cognition has been the major conceptual force impacting upon social psychological thought and empirical work for the last decade (Fiske & Taylor, 1984; Lachman & Manis, 1983). This orientation is characterized by an emphasis on understanding how the individual, as a participant in a complex social world, processes information available about the self, others, and the social environment; how that information becomes represented in memory; and how that memory representation is used later in the course of making judgments, interacting with others, and the like. And as social psychology has adopted this approach to understanding its subject matter, it has borrowed heavily from the repository of theoretical concepts and experimental techniques that have been of use in cognitive psychology. As a consequence, it is now commonplace in the social psychological literature to find, for example, discussions of how information is stored in associative networks, and reports of experiments that have used free recall, recognition, or response latency as the primary dependent measure (see, for example, Fiske & Taylor, 1984; Hamilton, 1981a; Hastie et aI., 1980; Higgins, Herman, & Zanna, 1981; Sorrentino & Higgins, 1986; Wyer & Srull, 1984). None of this was true as few as 10 years ago.

Keywords

Coherence Posit Thien 

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© Springer-Verlag New York Inc. 1989

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  • David L. Hamilton

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