hamiltonkatz&leier - Journal of Personality and...

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Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 1980, Vol. 39, No. 6, 10SO-1063 Cognitive Representation of Personality Impressions: Organizational Processes in First Impression Formation David L. Hamilton University of California Santa Barbara Lawrence B. Katz Yale University Von O. Leirer University of California, Santa Barbara In three experiments subjects given either impression formation or memory task instructions read a series of behavior descriptions that either did or did not con- tain a highly distinctive item. In each study subjects given impression formation instructions recalled significantly more items than did subjects in the memory condition. Subjects given impression formation instructions were more likely to recall a distinctive item, but presence of a distinctive item in the stimulus list had little effect on recall of the other items. Results are discussed in terms of the organization of information acquired during the process of impression development. For the last IS years, the experimental study of impression formation processes has focused on testing and evaluating various models of information integration. The aim of this research has been to formulate, in precise and quantifiable terms, the relation between global judgments of a stimulus per- son and the collections of items of information on which they are based. The degree of pre- cision achieved by some of these models has been impressive (e.g., Anderson, 1974). Although this research literature has been informative regarding the effectiveness of various combinatory rules in predicting judg- ment responses, it has become apparent that this approach to studying the impression for- mation process is somewhat limited. One This research was supported by National Institute of Mental Health Grant 29418 to the first author. The authors express their appreciation to Julie Cho-Polizzi, Terrence Rose, and William Trochim for their assistance in the collection and analysis of the data. They are also grateful to Terrence Rose for his helpful comments on an earlier version of the manuscript. Requests for reprints should be sent to David L. Hamilton, Department of Psychology, University of California, Santa Barbara, California 93106. reason for the incompleteness of this approach is that these models shed relatively little light on the actual cognitive processes mediating the formation of first impressions. That is, it is not presumed that the mathematical opera- tions specified in a combinatory rule repre- sent cognitive operations performed by the perceiver. There is, then, a need for research focusing on the cognitive processes actually engaged in during the impression formation process. A second respect in which information in- tegration models are limiting as an approach to studying impression formation is reflected in the dependent variables used in these studies. Typically, the dependent variable is a judgment on a single scale, most frequently a judgment of one's "liking" for a stimulus person. Although such a response measure is
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hamiltonkatz&leier - Journal of Personality and...

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