The Self-Reference Effect: How Elaborative Processing and Associability Function Through Self-schemas
Date Thesis Awarded
Honors Thesis -- Access Restricted On-Campus Only
Bachelors of Science (BS)
The self-reference effect (SRE) refers to the phenomenon where relating a piece of material to oneself allows it to be better remembered than material encoded in most other ways. This study tested a hypothesis of self-schemas as a sort of associative foundation for novel material at encoding, through the variation between strong and weak associates. To accomplish this goal, this study compared a self-referencing condition to an intimate and a distant other-referencing condition. The present study also investigated the SRE through a level-of-association variable. Participants were tasked to judge trait adjectives towards themselves and to a familiar person of the same age and gender (intimate “other”) or to former President Barack Obama (distant “other”). Half the traits were denoted as having strong self-association in this participant population, and the other half as having weak association. This study found both an SRE and a retrieval advantage for strong, self-associated stimuli. These results support the self-schemas as an associative foundation assumption for the improved recall of self-related material.
Keywords: self-reference effect, self-schemas, elaborative processing, associability, strong associates, weak associates, intimate other-referencing, distant other-referencing
Fiedler, Jennifer, "The Self-Reference Effect: How Elaborative Processing and Associability Function Through Self-schemas" (2020). Undergraduate Honors Theses. William & Mary. Paper 1500.
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