We combined personality, social cognitive, and cognitive paradigms for researching the self. Specifically, we examined whether personality trait assessments are associated with variation in the cognitive processes that produce the self-reference effect in memory. We found that self-reported, but not indirectly assessed, trait orderliness (Study 1; N = 98) and openness (Study 2; N = 92) were associated with slower free recall when corresponding trait adjectives were self-referenced, but not when adjectives were encoded in control tasks. The slower recall showed mixed predictive validity. Results suggest that personality congruent adjectives elicit more elaborative processing in the form of propositions that arise during self-reference, which counter-intuitively slows recall in a manner consistent with random search memory models and cue overload theory.

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Keywords Cumulative recall curves, Elaborative processing, Free recall, Memory, Organizational processing, Personality, Personality measurement, Self-concept, Self-reference effect
Persistent URL dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jrp.2016.12.001
Journal Journal of Research in Personality
Howell, G.T., & Zelenski, J. (2017). Personality self-concept affects processing of trait adjectives in the self-reference memory paradigm. Journal of Research in Personality, 66, 1–13. doi:10.1016/j.jrp.2016.12.001