Representations of significant others and the activation of interpersonal scripts

Van der Westhuizen, Le Roux (2004-12)

Thesis (DPhil)--University of Stellenbosch, 2004.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: It is a general assumption in psychology that past social relationships and experiences influence present social behaviour. With attachment theory and current social-cognitive theory as conceptual basis, the present study focused on the association between past experiences with significant others and the current processing of interpersonal information. By means of a 2x3x4 experimental design the study investigated the influence of chronic accessibility and subliminal priming (of significant other representations) on the accuracy and speed of processing scripted interpersonal information. One hundred and thirty seven university students took part in two sessions no more than two weeks apart. In session one they completed the Attachment Style Questionnaire (ASQ; Feeny, Noller & Hanrahan, 1994), and provided the names of positive and negative significant others. According to a median split of the Confidence Scale of the ASQ, they were assigned to a chronic positive or a chronic negative group, assuming that the information based on predominantly positive or negative experiences with positive or negative significant others will be chronically more accessible. In session two, in an individual computer task, they were subliminally primed (33 ms) with a control word or the name of the positive or negative significant other to increase the accessibility of the appropriate memory structures. They were then asked to read a positive, negative, mixed or ambiguous script of an interpersonal event and complete a memory test of 36 interpersonal statements (nine positive, nine negative, nine ambiguous and nine filler statements). The accuracy and response time for every statement was recorded, and the response times of accurate responses for positive and negative scripts were included in the main analysis. Separate univariate analyses of the differences between positive and negative priming per polarity of chronic group and script supported the priming hypothesis. The average response time of the chronic negative group was fastest when they received a negative prime (p = .039), and the positive group was fastest when they received a positive prime (p = .000). The results of a two-way analysis of variance for chronic group and script showed a highly significant interaction effect between chronic group and script (p = .000). When the primes were congruent to the scripts, the chronic groups were significantly faster in recognising statements from a congruent script. The results supported the conjunctive model of priming. The implications of these findings for the understanding of the cognitive structures and processes involved in processing interpersonal information are discussed, with specific reference to relational schemas and attachment working models. Possible directions for future research as well as the application of the results are also described.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Dit is ‘n algemene aanname in die sielkunde dat sosiale verhoudinge en ervarings uit die verlede ‘n invloed het op huidige sosiale gedrag. Vanuit die bindingsteorie en die huidige sosiaal-kognitiewe teorie as konseptuele uitgangspunt, fokus die huidige studie op die assosiasie tussen ervaringe met betekenisvolle persone in die verlede en die huidige prosessering van interpersoonlike inligting. Met behulp van ‘n 2x3x4 eksperimentele ontwerp is ondersoek ingestel na die invloed van chroniese toeganklikheid en subliminale opwekking (van geheuevoorstellings van betekenisvolle ander) op die akkuraatheid en spoed waarmee interpersoonlike tekste verwerk word. Eenhonderd-sewe-en-dertig universiteitstudente het deelgeneem aan twee sessies wat nie meer as twee weke na mekaar plaasgevind het nie. Tydens sessie een het die deelnemers die Attachment Style Questionnaire (ASQ; Feeny, Noller & Hanrahan, 1994) voltooi en die name van positiewe en negatiewe betekenisvolle persone voorsien. Op grond van die mediaan-verdeling van die Selfvertroue Skaal van die ASQ is die deelnemers toegewys aan ’n chronies positiewe of chronies negatiewe groep, met die veronderstelling dat inligting gebaseer op oorwegend positiewe of negatiewe ervarings met positiewe of negatiewe betekenisvolle ander deurlopend meer toegankilk sal wees. Tydens sessie twee, wat ’n individuele rekenaartaak behels het, is ’n subliminale stimulus (33 ms) van ’n kontrole-woord, of die naam van ’n positiewe of negatiewe betekenisvolle ander aan hulle aangebied om die toeganklikheid van die toepaslike geheue-strukture verder te verhoog. Daarna is hulle versoek om ‘n positiewe, negatiewe, gemengde of dubbelsinnige teks van ’n interpersoonlike gebeurtenis te lees en ’n geheuetoets van 36 stellings te voltooi wat bestaan het uit nege positiewe, nege negatiewe, nege dubbelsinnige en nege neutrale stellings. Die akkuraatheid en reaksiespoed van elke stelling is gemeet en die reaksietyd van die akkurate response op stellings uit positiewe en negatiewe tekste is in die primêre ontleding ingesluit. Die resultate van onafhanklike eenveranderlike ontledings van die verskille tussen positiewe en negatiewe opwekking per polariteit van chroniese groep en teks, het die hipotese van opwekking ondersteun. Die gemiddelde responstyd van die chroniese negatiewe groep was die vinnigste wanneer hulle die negatiewe stimulus ontvang het (p = .039) en die van die positiewe groep was die vinnigste wanneer hulle die positiewe stimulus ontvang het (p = .000). Die resultate van ’n tweerigting variansieontleding van chroniese groep en teks het ‘n beduidende interaksie tussen chroniese groep en teks aangedui (p = .000). Wanneer die opwekkingstimuli kongruent met die tekste was, was die chroniese groepe betekenisvol vinniger in die herkenning van stellings van die kongruente teks. Die resultate ondersteun ’n konjunktiewe model van opwekking. Die implikasies van die bevindinge vir die verstaan van die kognitiewe strukture en prosesse betrokke by die verwerking van interpersoonlike inligting word bespreek, met spesifieke verwysing na verhoudingskemas en die gebruiksmodelle in bindingsteorie. Riglyne vir toekomstige navorsing op die gebied word verskaf, en die implikasies vir die praktiese toepassing van die resultate word bespreek.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/16074
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