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Short-term memory and judgement of personality-trait adjectives : a divided attention task. Barnes , Marc James


Three experiments explored the nature of processing meaningful materials. In the context of the short-term memory paradigm, an interpolated judgement task was employed by manipulating the criteria by which personality-trait adjectives were judged. The to-be-recalled items were 5-digit numbers. Three criteria - desireability in an ideal date (0), descrlptiveness of self (S); and an ostensibly non-semantic, non-affective criterion (Ob) - were employed over variations in adjective presentation rate and independent versus cumulative judgements. Experiments I and II established differences between male and female Ss on the interpolated task. In Experiment III, judgement latency, judgement extremity, and subsequent recall of the digits were all measured. The results support the view of verbal recall as a function of the time available for rehearsal. The difficulty of interpolated Ob judgements is shown to be readily effected by presentation rate and judgement type. Moreover, recall under the 0b criterion is consistently a function of the semantic content of the interpolated material. A process of semantic monitoring is discussed in terms of the attention utilized by shifts of encoding class. Interpolated judgements of 0 are in close agreement with the likeableness ratings of the adjectives: categorization latencies are fastest for extreme likeableness adjectives and longer for moderate likeableness adjectives, interpolated :S judgements take longer, are less extreme, and result in poorer subsequent recall than 0 judgements under all conditions. Judgement latency and extremity indicate different principles for gratings of high and low likeableness adjectives. These findings are discussed in terms of differential retrieval and differential decision difficulty.

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