Organization of person memory and retrieval processes in recognition

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Abstract

The main concern of the present study was the question whether behavioural information and traits could be accessed independently. In a modified recognition experiment person descriptions were presented; later, a behaviour or a trait was presented as test item and subjects had to decide whether the behaviour was included in the description or the trait could be inferred. The decision time for behaviours as test items turned out to be independent of the number of traits inferrable. This finding supports two-memory conceptions of person memory according to which of two kinds of representations are available. One representation is trait-based and in the other one behavioural information is available. This conclusion was confirmed by the result that the decision time for traits as test items is partially invariant with respect to the number of behaviours included in the person description. Distinct individual diferences in the relation between decision time for traits as test items and the number of behaviours appeared which imply individual decision strategies in recognizing persons.

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