Interfering with inferential, but not associative, processes underlying spontaneous trait inference

Matthew T. Crawford, John J. Skowronski, Chris Stiff, Cory R. Scherer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

55 Scopus citations


Three studies explore mental processes underlying spontaneous trait inferences about self-informants and the spontaneous trait transference characterizing third-party informants. Process differences are suggested in that instructions prompting a nontrait inference (truth or lie?) reduce self-informant trait-savings effects and lower self-informant trait judgments. For third-party informants, such instructions have no effect on these outcome variables. Results of a third study are inconsistent with cognitive load as an explanation for these effects. Taken together, these results indicate that inferences, and not merely associations, spontaneously form when processing information about self-informants. The results also show that the inferences and judgments that occur in spontaneous trait transference are not caused by the misidentification of third-party informants as self-informants.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)677-690
Number of pages14
JournalPersonality and Social Psychology Bulletin
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2007

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology


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