Description of Research Interests in the Area of Social Memory

I grew up with the topic of person memory - it was one of the original "hot topics" in social cognition, so I spent a lot of time reading about person memory in my graduate school days, when social cognition was bursting onto the scene. My interests in this area have also been stimulated by my recent move from a regional campus in the Ohio State system (Newark) to Northern Illinois University. NIU is not too far from Chicago, where I grew up, so I have been encountering a lot of people who have some knowledge of my past. Some of the things that these folks remember are just weird. For example, the husband of one of my fellow faculty members is from my old neighborhood, and he reported that his mother remembered me as a boy who always carried his umbrella to school - the prototypic dweeb, if you ask me. Actually, I always remember breaking the damn umbrellas when I would use them as a baseball bat to hit rocks, but that's another story.

So, in any case, my attention has begun to focus on memory for others' behaviors. One of my forays into this area pursues the old person memory paradigm. I have become increasingly skeptical of the old network explanations that were proffered for incongruity effects in recall that emerged in some of the early research examining how trait expectancies influence behavior recall. I have a series of studies in mind that pursues some ideas that I have for why the incongruity effect emerges. Part of my thinking revolves around reconciling the incongruity effect that emerges in the trait expectancy literature with the congruity effect that emerges when stereotypes provide the expectancies.

I also have some interests in more naturalistic assessments of memory for another person - both the behaviors that a person engaged in and when those behaviors were performed. For these studies we often have people keep diaries of the behaviors of a third party. They provide ratings of the behaviors both at the time the event occurred and at the time we give them a memory test. At the time of test we assess memory for the event and memory for when the event occurred. We then try to use the ratings to figure out which characteristics of each behavior (such as its unusualness) and which processes instigated by the behavior (such as how often it has been rehearsed) predict memory and dating accuracy.

Heider, J.D., Scherer, C.R., Skowronski, J.J., Wood, S.E., Edlund, J.E., & Hartnett, J.L. (In Press). Trait expectancies and stereotype expectancies have the same effect on person memory. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology.


Skowronski, J.J., & Gannon, K. (2000). Raw Conditional Probabilities are a Flawed Index of Associative Strength: Evidence From a Single Expectancy Paradigm. Basic and Applied Social Psychology, 22, 9-18.


Crawford, M.T., & Skowronski, J.J. (1998). When motivated thought leads to heightened bias: High Need for Cognition can enhance the impact of stereotypes on memory. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 24, 1075-1088.


Skowronski, J.J., Betz, A.L., Sedikides, C., & Crawford, M.T. (1998). Raw conditional probabilities are a flawed index of associative strength: Evidence from a multi-trait paradigm. European Journal of Social Psychology, 28, 437-456.


Skowronski, J.J., & Welbourne, J. (1997). Conditional probability may be a flawed measure of associative strength. Social Cognition, 15, 1-12.