The Role of Advance Expectancies in Person Memory

Susan M. Belmore, Michael L. Hubbard, Robert F. Lorch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


Behaviors inconsistent with our general impression of another person are remembered better than are consistent behaviors, especially when only a few inconsistent behaviors occur (the set-size effect). In most previous studies of person memory, the behaviors to be remembered were accompanied by explicit trait information. Our studies showed that set-size effects also occurred when trait information was delayed or absent (Experiment 1) or when it contradicted the behavioral information (Experiment 2), but not when subjects were discouraged from forming a unitary impression (Experiment 3). These data do not support the hypothesis that the recall advantage for inconsistent behaviors depends on the presence of an advance expectancy, nor do they support a list-learning account of person memory. The results are most compatible with a model in which the perceiver spontaneously generates a behavior-based impression that is functionally equivalent to an expectancy-based impression in guiding memory for behaviors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)61-70
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Personality and Social Psychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 1987

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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