Cultural Identity Changes the Accessibility of Knowledge
Culture plays a significant role in determining what people believe and claim to know. Here, we argue that, in addition to shaping what people come to know, culture influences the accessibility of that knowledge. In five studies, we examined how activating participants’ American identities (a cultural identity) influenced their ability to retrieve well-known information: the 50 U. S. states. Activating participants’ American identities—relative to other identities—led them to retrieve more U. S. states over brief periods of time; the effect disappeared over longer periods of time. Overall, our results suggest that the identity activated affects the speed with which relevant knowledge is retrieved, but that the effect is not large in magnitude (perhaps contributing to why we did not find the effect in Study 4). This work provides the first evidence that cultural identity influences not only what one knows but also its accessibility.
Stanley, ML; Taylor, MK; Marsh, EJ
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