Research is proposed to examine the central assumptions and implications of Associated Systems Theory (Carlston, in press). This theory characterizes cognitive representations of other people as a network of associations among different forms of mental representation, including visual images, categorizations, trait inferences, evaluations, affective and behavioral responses, general orientations and behavioral/episodic memories. The origins, interrelations, and effects of these different forms of representation are theorized to reflect the operations of the visual, verbal, affective and action systems, to which different forms of representation are thought to be differentially related. The proposed research uses several different methodologies, including the classification of the content of free descriptions and the utilization of reaction time methods to assess the accessibility of different forms of representation. The target persons in this research include familiar others as well as videotaped stimulus persons presented within a paradigm intended to elicit all forms of representation, including affective and behavioral responses. These non-verbal, perceiver-focused forms of representation have been neglected by social cognition research. The, combination of methodologies will allow assessment of the interrelationships among diverse forms of mental representation, and permit examination of a number of novel hypotheses regarding the generation and utilization of such impressional content.
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