ERIC Number: EJ778693
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2002-Feb
Reference Count: 0
The Role of Prototypes in the Mental Representation of Temporally Related Events
Colcombe, Stanley J.; Wyer, Robert S., Jr.
Cognitive Psychology, v44 n1 p67-103 Feb 2002
Four experiments investigated the conditions in which people use a prototypic event sequence to comprehend a situation-specific sequence of events. Results of Experiment 1 confirmed Trafimow and Wyer's (1993) findings that when participants use a prototype (e.g., a cultural script) to comprehend a new sequence of events concerning a hypothetical person, events that are thematically unrelated to the prototype facilitate the recall of prototypic ones. When participants do not employ a prototype, however, thematically unrelated events interfere with the recall of the prototypic ones. These findings establish a criterion for determining whether prototypes are used as a basis for comprehending an event sequence. Experiment 2 showed that the formation and use of a prototype to comprehend a novel event sequence increases with the number of exemplars to which persons have been exposed before the sequence is encountered. However, Experiments 3 and 4 indicated that people often do not use prototypes to interpret sequences of behaviors that they imagine either themselves or a well-known other performing. This is true even though they personally perform the sequence of behaviors on a daily basis and even though a prototypic representation of the event sequence exists in memory.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Sponsor: National Inst. of Mental Health (DHHS), Bethesda, MD.
Authoring Institution: N/A