Dysexecutive person perception : the effects of cognitive load, alcohol intoxication and traumatic brain injury on stereotyping behaviour
The process of stereotype application is thought to follow activation of the stereotype unless this is consciously suppressed by the executive system. The present thesis sought to investigate the role of the executive system in suppression, and the effects of its disruption in person perception. Experiments 1 and 2 examined the secondary task performance of suppressors and non-suppressors during an impression formation task, and demonstrated that suppression consumes executive resources. It was also found that when stereotype activation was high, suppression facilitated the encoding of stereotypic information, reducing the executive demands of person perception. Experiment 3 examined the effects of cognitive load on suppression, by comparing the stereotypic and neutral recall of suppressors and non-suppressors. It was found that cognitive load increased reliance on stereotypes in general, and exacerbated ironic effects on memory. Experiments 4, 5 and 6 further investigated this pattern by examining the effects of alcohol intoxication on both conscious and cued suppression. It was found that intoxication reduced the initiation of conscious suppression, but that habitually suppressed constructs could be inhibited automatically following inhibitory cues. Finally, the effects of Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) on stereotype suppression were examined in Experiment 7. It was found that in comparison to non-brain injured controls, TBI patients did not show signs of stereotype rebound, suggesting that they did not initiate the suppression process. Rebound effects were significantly correlated with measures of executive inhibition and everyday dysexecutive behaviour. The importance of these findings in relation to theories of stereotype suppression, intoxicated behaviours and TBI sequelae were discussed.