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Document Type

Article

Abstract

To date, little is known about how social context cues influence the processing of information about relations between people, as opposed to information about indidvidual persons. This research addresses the construction of mental clique representations from pairwise sympathy relations. Forty-one participants learned 4 patterns of mutual liking or disliking relations. Patterns were ambiguous in the sense that they allowed integration into either a 2-clique or a 3-clique mental model. Prior to learning each pattern, participants read a story in which a social context was made salient. The context consisted of either 2 or 3 factions, or parties. Participants with good memory for the learned sentiment structure showed evidence for model-based retrieval, and they tended to construct their mental models in line with the context implications. For these participants, specific cues from the social environment influenced how they perceived and recalled interpersonal relationships. Participants with poor memory did not show evidence for mental model construction, but tended to follow a more detail-based memorization process. Context influences were not visible in this group.

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