Transference in interpersonal relations: inferences and affect based on significant-other representations

J Pers. 1994 Dec;62(4):459-97. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-6494.1994.tb00306.x.


Based on an information-processing model of transference and a recent experimental demonstration of transference, defined in terms of "biased inference and memory" (Andersen & Cole, 1990), the present research examined the transfer of affective responses to a new individual, as in schema-triggered affect (Fiske, 1982). Using idiographic stimulus-generation procedures and a nomothetic experimental design, we exposed subjects to a description of a new, unknown person, allegedly seated next door. The description resembled either a positively or negatively toned significant other from the subject's own life or from another subject's life. As predicted, and replicating previous work, subjects misremembered the target person as having more representation-consistent features when the target resembled their own significant other rather than someone else's. Moreover, and also as predicted, subjects transferred more representation-consistent affect to this same target person. The data are discussed in terms of conceptions of transference and basic aspects of social cognition.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Affect*
  • Cognition
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations*
  • Learning
  • Male
  • Transference, Psychology*