Social Psychology Network

Maintained by Scott Plous, Wesleyan University

John Skowronski

John Skowronski

I have recently stepped away from my tenured position at Northern Illinois University. However, moving forward I intend to keep being involved in research and scholarship.

I have several threads to my research program. The first thread is social judgment. In recent years, this thread has been dominated by pursuit of the phenomena of Spontaneous Trait Inference (STI) and Spontaneous Trait Transference (STT). However, recent students have added to the thread by exploring (1) perceptions of excuses and excuse-makers and (2) how parents who at risk of engaging in child abuse might perceive children and their actions differently from parents who are not at risk of abuse.

My second thread has explored several autobiographical memory-related issues. One line of research has explored the emotions that people have in response to their memories. We have documented a Fading Affect Bias in those memories: The general trend for most people is for positive events to retain their emotion-invoking power, while negative events seem to lose emotional impact at recall. Recent research has explored moderators for this effect and possible causes for this effect. I also retain interests in: (1) temporal aspects of autobiographical memory, including issues such as the accuracy of the event dates that people can remember or reconstruct for events from their autobiographies, and factors affecting accuracy and error patterns in dating, ans (2) the content of autobiographical recall and how that content might be related to both processing at event occurrence as well as to post-event processing.

A third thread of research has also focused on memory. One set of studies in this program of research has explored how attending to misinformation provided by others can produce memory distortions. A second set of studies has examined how stereotypes can enhance memory for stereotype-congruent information, especially among those who are high in need for cognition. This result is interesting because it may contradict the common wisdom that those who are cognitively active may be least prone to the impact of stereotypes on cognition. A third set of studies is exploring congruency and incongruency effects in social memory. Results of this research suggests that the classic inter-item reconciliatory models that have often been discussed in the last 20 years or so may be wrong. My students are adding to the weaving in the third thread by exploring moderators and causes of the mnemic neglect effect.

These threads are also supplemented by my contributions to others' research programs. I occasionally offer suggestions or make comments that others perceive to be useful, and in return, they stick my name on an article. It's a good way to live.

Primary Interests:

  • Causal Attribution
  • Evolution and Genetics
  • Judgment and Decision Making
  • Person Perception
  • Prejudice and Stereotyping
  • Self and Identity
  • Social Cognition

Research Group or Laboratory:

  • The Skowronski Lab Has Closed, but I remain available for consultations and collaborations.

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  • Ambady, N., & Skowronski, J.J. (Eds.) (2008). First impressions. New York, NY: Guilford Press.
  • Thompson, C.P., Skowronski, J.J., Larsen, S.F., & Betz, A.L. (1996). Autobiographical memory: Remembering what and remembering when. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.

Journal Articles:

  • Clinton, J.A., Magliano, J.P., & Skowronski, J.J. (2018). Gaining perspective on spatial perspective taking. Journal of Cognitive Psychology.30, 85-97. doi::10.1080/20445911.2017.1364254
  • Crawford, M.T., McCarthy, R.J., Kjaerstad, H.L., & Skowronski, J.J. (2013). Inferences are for doing: The impact of approach and avoidance states on the generation of spontaneous trait inferences. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. 39, 267-278. doi: 10.1177/0146167212473158
  • Crouch, J. L., Irwin, L. M., Milner, J. S., Skowronski, J. J., Rutledge, E., & Davila, A. (2017). Do hostile attributions and negative affect explain the association between authoritarian beliefs and harsh parenting? Child Abuse & Neglect, 67 2017, 13-21. doi: 10.1016/j.chiabu.2017.02.019
  • Irwin, L.M., Skowronski, J.J., Crouch, J.L., Milner, J.S., & Zengel, B. (2014). Reactions to children's transgressions in at-risk caregivers: does mitigating information, type of transgression, or caregiver directive matter? Child Abuse & Neglect, 917-927. doi: 10.1016/j.chiabu.2013.08.017
  • Jenkins, J.S., & Skowronski, J.J. (2016). The effects of invoking stereotype excuses on perceivers' character trait inferences and performance attributions. Social Psychology, 47, 4-14. doi: 10.1027/1864-9335/a000253
  • Lindeman, M.I.H., Zengel, B., & Skowronski, J.J. (2017). An exploration of the relationship among valence, fading affect, rehearsal frequency, and memory vividness for past personal events. Memory, 25, 724-735. doi: 10.1080/09658211.2016.1210172
  • McCarthy, R.J., & Skowronski, J.J. (2014). Disease avoidance cues interfere with spontaneous trait inferences. Journal of Social, Evolutionary, and Cultural Psychology, 8, 289-302. doi:10.1037/h0099105
  • McCarthy, R.J., Skowronski, J.J.,Crouch, J.L., & Milner, J.S. (2017). Parents' spontaneous evaluations of children and symbolic harmful behaviors toward their child. Child Abuse & Neglect, 67, 419-428. doi: 10.1016/j.chiabu.2017.02.005
  • Ritchie, T.D.; Sedikides, C., & Skowronski, J. J. (2017). Does a person selectively recall the good or the bad from their personal past? It depends on the recall target and the person's favourability of self-views. Memory. 25, 934-944. doi: 10.1080/09658211.2016.1233984
  • Ritchie, T. D., Walker, W. R., Marsh, S., & Skowronski, J. J. (2015). Narcissism distorts the fading affect bias in autobiographical memory. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 29, 104-114. doi: 10.1002/acp.3082
  • Schneid, E., Carlston, D.E., & Skowronski, J.J. (2015). Spontaneous evaluative inferences and their relationship to spontaneous trait inferences. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 108, 681-696. doi:
  • Schneid, E., Crawford, M.T., Skowronski, J.J., Irwin, L.E., & Carlston, D.E., (2015). Thinking about other people: Spontaneous trait inferences and spontaneous evaluations. Social Psychology, 46, 24-35. doi: 10.1027/1864-9335/a000218
  • Sedikides, C., Green, J.D., Saunders, J., Skowronski, J.J., & Zengel, B. (2016). Mnemic neglect: Selective amnesia of one’s faults. European Review of Social Psychology, 27, 1-62, doi: 10.1080/10463283.2016.1183913
  • Skowronski, J.J., Milner, J.S., Wagner, M.F., Crouch, J.L., & McCanne, T.R. (2014). Pushing the boundaries of human expertise in face perception: Emotion expression identification and error as a function of presentation angle, presentation time, and emotion. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 50, 166-174. doi: 10.1016/j.jesp.2013.10.001
  • Wagner, M. F., & Skowronski, J. J. (2017). Social influence and mental routes to the production of authentic false memories and inauthentic false memories. Consciousness and Cognition, 51, 34-52. doi: 10.1016/j.concog.2017.02.017
  • Zengel, B., Ambler, J.K., McCarthy, R.J. & Skowronski, J.J. (2017). Spontaneous trait inference and spontaneous trait transference are both unaffected by prior evaluations of informants. The Journal of Social Psychology, 157, 382-387.
  • Zengel, B., Skowronski, J.J., Valentiner, D.P., & Sedikides, C. (2015). Loss of mnemic neglect among socially anxious individuals. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 34, 322-347. doi: 10.1521/jscp.2015.34.4.322
  • Zengel, B., Wells, B. M., & Skowronski, J.J. (accepted for publication). The waxing and waning of mnemic neglect. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

Courses Taught:

John Skowronski
Department of Psychology
Northern Illinois University
DeKalb, Illinois 60115
United States of America

  • Phone: (815) 753-7073
  • Fax: (815) 753-8088

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