An Individual-Difference Perspective Applied to Word Association

Document Type



Community and Global Health (CGU)

Publication Date



Medicine and Health Sciences | Mental and Social Health | Psychology | Social and Behavioral Sciences


Most cognitive approaches to word association and some theories of social cognition converge on the notion that the performance of repetitive behaviors should predict word association responses. To study this issue, the authors examined the frequencies of free-association responses of 1, 003 subjects to ambiguous words, some of which had subdominant senses that were linked to repetitive behaviors (e.g., draft and alcohol use). Results showed that three out of four measures of individual differences in repetitive behaviors significantly predicted responses for words linked to their respective behaviors. Gender, age, and language background were controlled for in these analyses. Although cognitive approaches suggested that an experimental manipulation of item presentation (grouped vs. randomly mixed items) should influence responses, this effect was not significant. Implications are discussed in terms of theories of lexical ambiguity and implicit influences of memory for previous experiences.

Rights Information

© 1997 Society for Personality and Social Psychology, Inc.