Although it is well known that advertising can momentarily activate specific consumer identities and thereby influence preference for identity-relevant products, the influence of such identity activation on consumer memory is undocumented. Identity activation encourages consumers to link advertising content to their identity during encoding, and these links facilitate subsequent recognition if the identity is again activated at retrieval. This identity-dependent processing produces different recognition outcomes for information that is strongly related, moderately related, and unrelated to the identity. Identity activation at both encoding and retrieval improved recognition of advertising content moderately related to the identity but had no effect on recognition of unrelated content. Identity activation at retrieval improved recognition of strongly related content, regardless of whether identity was primed externally at encoding. These results support an interpretative frame process at encoding and suggest that content-state association is a critical moderator of state-dependent learning.

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