The Explanatory Effect of a Label: Its Influence on a Category Persists Even If We Forget the Label
In this study we replicated the explanatory effect of a label which had been found by Giffin et al. (2017). In their experiments, they used vignettes describing an odd behavior of a person based on culturally specific disorders that were unfamiliar to respondents. It turned out that explanations which explain an odd behavior through a person’s tendency to behave that way (circulus vitiosus) seemed more persuasive if the disorder was given a label that was used in the explanation. We replicated these results in Experiment 1, and in a follow-up Experiment 2 we examined the familiarity with category information and the evaluation of that category over time (the delay lasted one week). We realized that the label effect persists even when people make judgments based on their recollections about a category. Furthermore, according to a content analysis of the recollections, participants in the label condition remembered more information from the vignettes but tended to forget an artificial label; however, they used other words from the disorder domain instead (like “disease” or “kleptomania”). This allowed us to suggest a new interpretation of this effect: we suppose that in the Giffin et al. (2017) experiments the label did not bring any new features to a category itself, but pointed to a relevant domain instead, so the effect appeared from the activation of areas of knowledge in semantic memory and the application of relevant schema for learning a new phenomenon.