4 July 2013

Benefits and costs of collaboration for collective memory

In a previous volume of Current Directions in Psychological Science “Collaboration Both Hurts and Helps Memory: A Cognitive Perspective” (Vol. 20, 2011) a very interesting paper about the costs and benefits of remembering together by Suparna Rajaram (visit the website of Rajaram’s lab at Stony Brook University)

The abstract begins: “Humans spend a majority of their lives in a social context. So historically, several disciplines have pursued a study of the social aspects of memory. Yet, research on memory in cognitive psychology has, for more than a century, concentrated mainly on individuals working in isolation. A recent shift in this orientation has led to a rapid growth in cognitive research revealing both counterintuitive and complex effects of collaboration on learning and remembering. For example, despite subjective reports to the contrary, collaboration impairs a group’s recall performance compared to its potential. Yet, individual group members also show improvements in recall after collaboration. This article highlights the role of cognitive mechanisms in producing these and other benefits and costs of collaboration and in shaping both individual and collective memories.”

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