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PMIG was founded by Thomas M. Ostrom, and was organized by him for many years until his untimely death in 1994. Its history began with a meeting of five researchers in Columbus, Ohio in February 1977, to discuss then-new developments in the study of person perception, in the context of related theories in cognitive psychology. Beginning in October of that same year, the group met before SESP, a schedule which has continued to the present. It is believed that PMIG was the first group to adopt this "pre-SESP" meeting schedule, which is now increasingly popular. Over the years, the group has expanded in size and in the topic areas of interest. As such, the term "person memory" in the group's name describes the historical foundations of the organization rather than characterizing its current focus.

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