Attempted recall of biographical information influences face attractiveness

Abstract

We examined affective consequences arising from the kinds of memory retrieval failures that often accompany social interaction. To do so, we measured the influence of cued-recall outcomes for biographical information on the rated attractiveness of faces. The data demonstrate that retrieval of names (Experiment 1a) and professions (Experiment 1b) increases the rated attractiveness of target faces relative to faces that failed to produce recall of associative information. This was predicted by a confirmation of search (COS) model originally developed on verbal memoranda, which assumes that confirmation bias during memory search leads to affective consequences depending upon retrieval’s success or failure. The current study extends this model, showing that evaluative judgments of individuals are in part contingent upon the memory retrieval skills of their assessors. We conclude by discussing potential extensions of the COS paradigm to the measurement of implicit attitudes and special populations.

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Data availability

The analysis scripts and data are available at the Open Science Foundation (osf.io/twsn2). The project was preregistered at the Open Science Foundation (osf.io/tgh63).

Notes

  1. 1.

    In Experiments 1 and 2 of Grybinas et al. (2019), the order recognition and pleasantness judgments were manipulated such that subjects either rated items for pleasantness either before or after the recognition decision. Neither experiment showed a main effect of judgment order on rated pleasantness, nor did judgment order interact with the outcome of memory judgment on rated pleasantness. This insensitivity of judgment order appears to occur because subjects initiate retrieval attempts before pleasantness ratings even when those ratings are performed first. For example, in Experiment 2 of Grybinas et al. (2019), recognition decision times were almost 3 times faster when they followed pleasantness ratings (mean median 548 ms) than when they preceded the pleasantness ratings (mean median 1,470 ms), t(1, 152) = 19.5, p < .001, and the same pattern occurred with pleasantness judgments, t(1, 152) = 6.74, p < .001. This would suggest that the memory decisions and pleasantness ratings were being processed to some degree jointly. In the current study, we chose to have the pleasantness ratings conducted first because it highlights the importance of retrieval outcomes that may be concurrently undertaken during the pleasantness evaluation. Again, however, the findings of Grybinas et al. (2019) indicate similar effects of retrieval outcomes occur regardless of whether memory reporting precedes or follows the pleasantness rating.

  2. 2.

    A subject in Experiment 1b did not commit any intrusions and was consequently left out of the one-way ANOVA. This subject was likewise omitted from any pairwise comparison involving intrusion trials, explaining the differences in reported degrees of freedom. There was thus a total of 33 subjects for these analyses.

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Correspondence to David Grybinas or Ian G. Dobbins.

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Grybinas, D., Dobbins, I.G. Attempted recall of biographical information influences face attractiveness. Psychon Bull Rev (2021). https://doi.org/10.3758/s13423-021-01877-1

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Keywords

  • Memory
  • Encoding effects
  • Emotion
  • Cued recall