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The role of identity in the encoding and memory of trait adjectives

Curtis Scott Dunkel, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


Identity researchers have turned to the social-cognitive research on the self to gain insights. Berzonsky and Adams (1999) have suggested that the examination of the relationship between identity and the processing of information related to the self might be fruitful. The current study followed this suggestion to examine the effect identity has on the processing and recall of self-relevant information. ^ The participants for this study were young adults between the ages of 18 and 24 (M = 19.94, SD = 1.62). A non-developmental design was used with identity status and exploration/commitment as classification variables and reaction time, confidence ratings, recall, and the number of intrusions as dependent variables. The participants viewed a series of 48 trait adjectives presented individually on a computer screen and they indicated whether the adjective was self-descriptive and how confident they were of this response. After a brief filler task, the participants were asked to recall the adjectives. In the final phase the participants were administered the EOM-EIS2 identity measure. ^ The identity achievement and moratorium status group had shorter reaction times, higher confidence ratings, and a greater number of intrusions. There was also a significant exploration X response interaction. The foreclosure and diffusion identity status group recalled more of the adjectives they judged as self-descriptive than those judged as not being self-descriptive. This pattern was not seen in the achievement and moratorium status groups. The results suggested that identity exploration is associated with a more elaborate yet open or flexible identity structure. These results are not only consistent with the identity style model (Berzonsky, 1989), but also with the developmental model incorporating research on identity and possible selves (Dunkel, 2000).* ^ *Originally published in DAI Vol. 63, No. 1. Reprinted here with corrected author name.^

Subject Area

Psychology, Developmental

Recommended Citation

Curtis Scott Dunkel, "The role of identity in the encoding and memory of trait adjectives" (January 1, 2002). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. Paper AAI3041355.