This research attempts to account for the finding that faces that have been judged with reference to traits such as honesty or friendliness are better remembered than faces judged with respect to a physical feature. Four experiments are reported in which the orienting task engaged in by the subjects was controlled. The first two experiments support an elaboration hypothesis that it is the amount rather than the type of information encoded that accounts for the observed effect. Experiments 3 and 4 provide evidence that elaborative encoding is effective because the likelihood of a distinctive feature being encoded increases with the degree of elaboration. The role of distinctiveness is emphasized.
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