Tales of the unexpected: executive function and person perception

J Pers Soc Psychol. 1999 Feb;76(2):200-13. doi: 10.1037//0022-3514.76.2.200.


The present research investigated the role of executive functioning in person perception. Given the assumption that perceivers' recollective preference for unexpected material relies on the operation of an executive cognitive process (i.e., inconsistency resolution), it was anticipated that only under dual-task conditions in which executive functioning is impaired would one expect inconsistency resolution to be impaired and perceivers' memory bias for unexpected material to be eliminated. When concurrent mental activity impairs the operation of nonexecutive cognitive operations, inconsistency resolution and the related process of individuation were not expected to be impaired. The results of 2 experiments using different memory measures (e.g., free recall and source identification) supported these predictions. The findings are considered in the context of contemporary issues in person perception and executive functioning.

MeSH terms

  • Attitude*
  • Cognition*
  • Ego*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Mental Recall*
  • Models, Psychological*
  • Perception*
  • Personality*
  • Pilot Projects
  • Stereotyping*