Recent research has demonstrated that proactive interference (PI) between the names of familiar individuals in a memory task is category specific, and that subsequent release from proactive interference (RPI) is a useful tool for investigating the underlying categorisation of memory for people. These RPI effects are in line with the influential Interactive Activation and Competition (IAC) model of person recognition, which predicts the existence of such categorical effects. Here we report an experiment precisely replicating the categorical PI and RPI effects found previously for occupational categories, but using faces instead of names as stimuli. The results underscore the use of PI as a tool to investigate semantic categorisation, are compatible with models proposing a single point of access to semantic information about people and provide further evidence for the categorical organisation of person knowledge. © 2010 Psychology Press
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