The impact of information processing goals and capacity restrictions on attitude-memory

Thumbnail Image
Norris, Meghan Elizabeth
Researchers have long presumed that attitudes play a role in information processing, affecting memory in an attitude-consistent manner. This is known as congeniality. This presumption was largely dismissed as a result of a large scale, comprehensive meta-analysis (Eagly et al., 1999). The current project proposed that the conditions under which congeniality was tested in the past were not conducive for eliciting these effects. The present research tests cognitive capacity restrictions and salient information processing goals as moderators of the effects of attitude on memory in a 3 (Information Processing Goal: Attitude Expressive vs. Alternative Perspective Taking vs. No Goal) X 2 (Time Restriction: Restricted vs. Unrestricted) X 3 (Issue: Eating Red Meat vs. Marijuana Use vs. Playing Contact Sports) design. Participants were given a specific processing goal and were presented with issue-relevant information at either a restricted or unrestricted time interval. After a delay, they were presented with recall and recognition tasks. Results indicated that goals moderated the effects of attitudes on the favorability of correct recall such that memory tended to be biased in the same direction as the goal. Experiment 2 expanded this research by including a second session 48 hours later which served as a second testing phase for memory. Again, during the first session, information processing goals were found to moderate the effects of attitude on the favorability of correct recall. Interestingly, the second session failed to find these effects, but instead found weak evidence of global congeniality regardless of goal condition. The implications of these findings are discussed.
External DOI