Mnemonic convergence in a social network:

Abstract

Selective rehearsal of memories through conversation shapes subsequent recall for both speakers and listeners. Interactional memory acts have typically been studied in dyadic conversation or small groups; however, as Christakis and Fowler (2009) point out, humans don’t just belong to groups, we are more precisely enmeshed in social networks. This study extends Coman and Hirst’s (2012) work on propagation of socially-shared retrieval-induced forgetting (Cuc, Koppel, and Hirst, 2007) and social contagion (Roediger, Meade, & Bergman, 2001) across a series of conversations. We move from dyadic networks to a dynamically self-assembling social network of 46 undergraduates over a nine-week period. Using a framework derived from Kauffman’s (1994) models of adaptive fitness landscapes in evolution, we trace mnemonic convergence as it emerges from the interplay of “internal” cognitive factors and dynamics attributable to network connectivity. Contributions to the cognitive psychology of collective memory are discussed.


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