Self-reference and the encoding of personal information

J Pers Soc Psychol. 1977 Sep;35(9):677-88. doi: 10.1037//0022-3514.35.9.677.


The degree to which the self is implicated in processing personal information was investigated. Subjects rated adjectives on four tasks designed to force varying kinds of encoding: structural, phonemic, semantic, and self-reference. In two experiments, incidental recall of the rated words indicated that adjectives rates under the self-reference task were recalled the best. These results indicate that self-reference is a rich and powerful encoding process. As an aspect of the human information-processing system, the self appears to function as a superordinate schema that is deeply involved in the processing, interpretation, and memory of personal information.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Association
  • Cognition*
  • Female
  • Form Perception
  • Humans
  • Learning*
  • Male
  • Memory*
  • Mental Recall*
  • Phonetics
  • Self Concept*
  • Semantics