Tufts University  |  School of Arts and Sciences  |  Department of Psychology  |  Find People  | 

Research Overview

Interplay of Racial and Spatial Categories in Memory

Social categories, such as race, gender, and age play a similar role in organizing memory for people that spatial categories, such as cities, states, and countries play in organizing memory for environments. Specifically, two people or places that share category membership (same race or same state) are often perceived to be much more similar to one another than reality would dictate. Likewise, people or locations that do not share category membership are perceived to be much more distinct than reality would dictate. However, these research literatures have essentially proceeded in parallel with no intersection.

Social psychological researchers study the influence of social categories on social judgment and spatial cognition researchers study the influence of spatial categories on spatial judgment. We wondered to what extent social category information might influence one’s learning and recollection of locations in a novel spatial environment. We are currently examining this issue in a series of experiments.