The Plymouth Student Scientist

Document Type

Psychology Article


Schema theory accounts for the incompleteness and distortions in memory. Theories suggest a person’s prior knowledge can influence their encoding and retrieval abilities. Concerning gender-schemas, someone’s stereotypical gender biases can influence their schematic encoding and memory recall. These theories were tested in the current study by assessing participants recall of events and gender biases at explicit and implicit levels. Explicit recall was assessed through a questionnaire regarding a passage of text previously presented to participants, and implicit gender biases were assessed through an IAT. Within this study there were four conditions organised in a 2 x 2 design. Conditions consisted of informed and non-informed conditions and gender conforming and non-conforming conditions. Informed conditions were mediated through statements presented to participants prior to the study which told participants the true nature of the study – testing gender-related recall or told them their memory recall would be tested. Conforming conditions were given biographies where characters gender’s consistent with stereotypical gender roles, with non-conforming conditions the opposite. Results found that when presented with non-conforming biographies, participants performed worse at recall and were more likely to recall gender inaccurate information. This effect was seen only when the participants were informed, indicating an effect of schema activation and priming on memory recall. Additionally, participants with higher IAT scores (more bias) performed poorer than those with lower scores when in non-conforming conditions. These findings support those found in the previous literature and add the finding that informing participants can influence their ability to recall accurate gendered information.

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The Plymouth Student Scientist





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October 2020

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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