Self-Reference in the Encoding of Creative-Relevant Traits


  • Preparation of this article was supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada and by Natural Science and Engineering Research Council of Canada, Grant No A7040 I would like to thank Sandra Paivio and Andrew Patrick for assisting in the collection and analyses of the data I am especially thankful to Andrew Patrick who wrote the computer program employed in Study 2 This manuscript was written while the author was a visiting scholar at the Institute of Personality Assessment and Research, University of California at Berkeley The support of the staff at IPAR is gratefully acknowledged, special thanks are due Ken Craik, John Kamp, Kevin Lanning and Gerry Mendelsohn for comments on an earlier version of this report The comments of two anonymous reviewers are also much appreciated

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ABSTRACT Participants (N= 103) engaged in an incidental memory study in which they made one of three decisions about trait terms i e, regarding its physical nature (upper or lower case), semantic meaning (synonymity) or self-reference (i e, does the word describe you?) In each condition, one-half of the trait terms were relevant descriptors of creative persons, chosen from the creative personality scale of Domino (1970), whereas the other traits were irrelevant as descriptors of creativity Following the rating task the participants completed a short version of the Remote Association Test (RAT), a test with predictive validity for creative activity Participants were then unexpectedly asked to recall as many of the trait terms as possible High creatives (RAT scorers) recalled more creative-relevant trait terms than did low creatives, there were no memory differences between groups for creative-irrelevant descriptors This memory difference was observed only under the conditions in which self-schemata would be activated (the self-referent condition) and was not observed under conditions in which the word's meaning (semantic) or physical appearance (case) was manipulated A second study (N= 53) replicated the self-referent effect and discounted confounds due to differences in IQ or time spent studying the trait terms These results were consistent with the hypothesis that the self-concept is aroused when persons engage in self-referent decision-making in contrast to models which downplay a special role for the “self”