It is not in the details: Self-related shapes are rapidly classified but their features are not better remembered

Merryn Constable, Jason Rajsic, Timothy Welsh, Jay Pratt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)
12 Downloads (Pure)


Self-prioritization is a robust phenomenon whereby judgments concerning self-representational stimuli are faster than judgments toward other stimuli. The present paper examines if and how self-prioritization causes more vivid short-term memories for self-related objects by giving geometric shapes arbitrary identities (self, mother, stranger). In Experiment 1 participants were presented with an array of the three shapes and required to retain the location and color of each in memory. Participants were then probed regarding the identity of one of the shapes and subsequently asked to indicate the color of the probed shape or an unprobed shape on a color wheel. Results indicated no benefit for self-stimuli in either response time for the identification probe or for color fidelity in memory. Yet, a cuing benefit was observed such that the cued stimulus in the identity probe did have higher fidelity within memory. Experiments 2 and 3 reduced the cognitive load by only requiring that participants process the identity and color of one shape at a time. For Experiment 2, the identity probe was memory-based, whereas the stimulus was presented alongside the identity probe for Experiment 3. Results demonstrated a robust self-prioritization effect: self-related shapes were classified faster than non-self-shapes, but this self-advantage did not lead to an increase in the fidelity of memory for self-related shapes’ colors. Overall, these results suggest that self-prioritization effects may be restricted to an improvement in the ability to recognize that the self-representational stimulus is present without devoting more perceptual and short-term memory resources to such stimuli.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1145-1157
Number of pages13
JournalMemory and Cognition
Issue number6
Early online date29 Mar 2019
Publication statusPublished - 15 Aug 2019
Externally publishedYes


Dive into the research topics of 'It is not in the details: Self-related shapes are rapidly classified but their features are not better remembered'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this