Consensus collaboration enhances group and individual recall accuracy

Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology 65 (1):v (2012)
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We often remember in groups, yet research on collaborative recall finds “collaborative inhibition”: Recalling with others has costs compared to recalling alone. In related paradigms, remembering with others introduces errors into recall. We compared costs and benefits of two collaboration procedures—turn taking and consensus. First, 135 individuals learned a word list and recalled it alone (Recall 1). Then, 45 participants in three-member groups took turns to recall, 45 participants in three-member groups reached a consensus, and 45 participants recalled alone but were analysed as three-member nominal groups (Recall 2). Finally, all participants recalled alone (Recall 3). Both turn-taking and consensus groups demonstrated the usual pattern of costs during collaboration and benefits after collaboration in terms of recall completeness. However, consensus groups, and not turn-taking groups, demonstrated clear benefits in terms of recall accuracy, both during and after collaboration. Consensus groups engaged in beneficial group source-monitoring processes. Our findings challenge assumptions about the negative consequences of social remembering.

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John Sutton
Macquarie University


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