Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




The selective retention hypothesis states that people tend to remember information which is consistent with their attitudes and forget information which is contrary to their attitudes. This hypothesis has been shown to depend upon such factors as the sex of the subject, ego-involvement, the function that learning the material may serve for the subject, the nature of the audience to whom one must communicate, the affective nature of the material, prior familiarity with the material, and the cognitive structure of the subject.

The present study is an attempt to further explore the role of affective material and cognitive structure as these variables affect selective retention. The affective material used consisted of favorable, neutral, and unfavorable statements about men and women which were given to 48 male and 48 female college students in a recognition memory task. The subjects had been selected on the basis of their scores on an attitude measure, the Attitude Toward Women Scale (AWS), and placed into liberal, moderate, and conservative groups. The AWS is an instrument which measures attitudes towards the role of women in society along a liberal—conservative dimension.

Subject’s performance on the recognition memory task was measured utilizing the signal detection model as it has been applied to memory. The dependent variables were d’ (d prime, which is the measure of retention provided by signal detection theory), percent correct, and § (beta, which is a measure of the subject’s tendency to respond to tt a memory items ir; a biased manner by selecting one response category tore often than another). {} is also derived from signal detection theory These measures were subjected to a four-way analysis of variance with repeated measures on two variables. The independent variables were se: of subject (male-female), attitude of subject (liberal, moderate, conserva tive), sex of statement (male-female), and favorability of statement (favorable, neutral, unfavorable). Repeated measures were obtained on the sex of statement and favorability of statement variables.

The results showed no differences in memory due to the sex of the subject or the sex of the statement. Attitude did affect memory per- formance between subjects who were moderate and liberal in their atti- tude towards women with the liberal subjects remembering significantly more item; than the moderates. This effect was consistent for both d' and percsi t correct. There was also a tendency for the more favorable items to be remembered better than the more unfavorable items. The results for $ tended to show that as the items became more favorable subjects adopted a stricter criterion which means they tended to deny having s

The results provide support for the selective retention of statements about men and women by subjects who differ in their attitudes toward women along a liberal-conservative dimension. These results were net affected by the affective nature of che material. The results for H :ould not be interpreted.