Collaboration and prospective memory

comparing nominal and collaborative group performance in strangers and couples

Catherine Browning, Celia Harris, Penelope Van Bergen, Amanda Barnier, Peter G. Rendell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

5 Citations (Scopus)


To perform prospective memory (PM) tasks in day-to-day life, we often enlist the help of others. Yet the effects of collaboration on PM are largely unknown. Adopting the methodology of the “collaborative recall paradigm”, we tested whether stranger dyads (Experiment 1) and intimate couples (Experiment 2) would perform better on a “Virtual Week” task when working together or each working separately. In Experiment 1, we found evidence of collaborative inhibition: collaborating strangers did not perform to their pooled individual potential, although the effect was modulated by PM task difficulty. We also found that the overall collaborative inhibition effect was attributable to both the retrospective and prospective components of PM. In Experiment 2 however, there was no collaborative inhibition: there was no significant difference in performance between couples working together or separately. Our findings suggest potential costs of collaboration to PM. Intimate relationships may reduce the usual costs of collaboration, with implications for intervention training programmes and for populations who most need PM support.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1206-1219
Number of pages14
Issue number9
Early online date1 Feb 2018
Publication statusPublished - 21 Oct 2018


  • collaborative inhibition
  • prospective memory
  • Virtual Week
  • social memory

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