Effects of collaboration on the qualities of autobiographical recall in strangers, friends, and siblings

both remembering partner and communication processes matter

Amanda Selwood, Celia B. Harris, Amanda J. Barnier*, John Sutton

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Recalling autobiographical memories with others can influence the quality of recall, but little is known about how features of the group influence memory outcomes. In two studies, we examined how the products and processes of autobiographical recall depend on individual vs. collaborative remembering and the relationship between group members. In both studies, dyads of strangers, friends, and siblings recalled autobiographical events individually (elicitation), then either collaboratively or individually (recall). Study 1 involved typing memory narratives; Study 2 involved recalling aloud. We examined shifts in vividness, emotionality, and pronoun use within memory narratives produced by different relationship types. In Study 2, we also coded collaborative dyads’ “collaborative processes” or communication processes. In Study 1, all relationships showed decreased positive emotion and I-pronouns and increased negative emotion within collaboratively-produced memory narratives. In Study 2, all relationships showed increased vividness, reduced emotionality and positive and negative emotion, and increased I- and we-pronouns within collaboratively-produced memory narratives. However, strangers used collaborative processes differently from friends and siblings. Some collaborative processes were associated with memory qualities. Across studies, collaboration influenced memory quality more than did relationship type, but relationship type influenced dyads’ recall dynamics. These findings indicate the complexity of social influences on memory.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)399–416
Number of pages18
JournalMemory
Volume28
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2020

Keywords

  • autobiographical memory
  • collaborative memory
  • transactive memory
  • social memory
  • intimate relationships

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