Authors: Zelli, A., Cervone, D., & Huesmann, L.R. (1996)
Title: Behavioral Experience and Social Inference: Individual Differences in Aggressive Experience and Spontaneous versus Deliberate Trait Inference
Journal: Social Cognition , 14, 165-190.


This research examined the hypothesis that spontaneous trait inferences would be more revealing of individual differences in chronic behavioral experiences than would inferences made deliberately. Individuals high and low in aggressive experiences memorized sentences that were open to either hostile or nonhostile interpretations. In a deliberate inference condition, subjects were asked to consider motives behind the actors' behaviors. Spontaneous inference subjects received no such instructions. Recall was cued by either hostile or nonhostile dispositional terms. Analyses of recall of sentence actors yielded a significant three-way interaction among aggression level, inference condition, and recall cue. Within the spontaneous inference condition, hostile traits were relatively more effective cues for aggressive subjects, whereas hostile and nonhostile cues were equally effective for those low in aggression. In the deliberate inference condition, hostile and nonhostile cues were about equally effective for aggressive individuals, whereas hostile cues were slightly more effective for low-aggressive persons.