Biased Intergroup Memories and Personality

Title

Biased Intergroup Memories and Personality

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Faculty Sponsor

Jay Jackson

Department/Program

Department of Psychology

Sponsor Department/Program

Department of Psychology

Abstract

It has been established that the personality traits of openness and agreeableness are inversely associated with prejudice. We propose that these personality traits also influence group-based memories. In general, people have better memories for a person’s traits when those traits fit a stereotype (e.g., Linda the librarian was quiet). This is called the stereotype-consistency effect. Because people high in openness are less likely to rely on heuristic processing of information (quick, automatic thinking), we hypothesized that they would be less prone to the stereotype-consistency effect. In addition, because highly agreeable people tend to be interpersonally sensitive and non-judgmental, we hypothesized that they also would be less prone to the stereotype consistency effect. To test our predictions, we asked 282 participants to complete established measures of openness and agreeableness. They were then presented with a story about a White American, African American, or Hispanic American person (randomly determined). The person exhibited multiple positive and negative attributes that were stereotypical and non-stereotypical of each ethnic group. Lastly, participants were asked to recall the person’s traits. Our primary hypotheses were supported. Both openness and agreeableness were significant predictors of accurate recall of positive traits associated with outgroup members, and fewer errors when assigning negative stereotypic “decoy” attributes to the target person. Our research demonstrates that some basic personality traits may play a significant role in understanding memory biases associated with social stereotypes. Our research contributes to recent efforts to integrate personality and situational factors that influence intergroup relations.

Biased Intergroup Memories and Personality

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