Retrieving Autobiographical Memories Influences Judgments About Others: The Role of Metacognitive Experiences

Karl-Andrew Woltin, Olivier Corneille, Vincent Yzerbyt

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This research investigates whether metacognitive experiences accompanying the retrieval of autobiographical memories influence judgments about others. Based on social projection research, we tested the hypothesis that ease-of-retrieval,
affecting how the self is perceived, affects first impressions. In line with this prediction, Experiment 1 showed that participants asked to recall a few personal instances of assertive behavior (easy retrieval) judged an unknown person to be more assertive than participants recalling many instances (difficult retrieval). Experiment 2, targeting creativity, provided evidence for the retrieval-ease mechanism: The effect disappeared when ease-of-retrieval was discredited as informational source in a misattribution paradigm. Finally, Experiments 3 and 4 replicated this pattern for the same personality traits and demonstrated two boundary conditions: Participants? ease of autobiographical recalls affected judgments of in- but not outgroup members (Experiment 3), and judgments of unknown others were affected after autobiographical recall but not after recalling behaviors of someone else (Experiment 4).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)526-539
Number of pages14
JournalPersonality and Social Psychology Bulletin
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2014


  • ease-of-retrieval
  • availability heuristic
  • self- and other-judgment
  • social projection

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