Effects of collaboration on the qualities of autobiographical recall in strangers, friends, and siblings: both remembering partner and communication processes matter

Memory 28 (3):399-416 (2020)
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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 collaborativelyproduced 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.

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John Sutton
Macquarie University


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