Experimental Brain Research

, Volume 211, Issue 3–4, pp 429–438 | Cite as

Interpersonal memory-based guidance of attention is reduced for ingroup members

  • Xun HeEmail author
  • Anne G. Lever
  • Glyn W. Humphreys
Research Article


Participants jointly engaged in common tasks with co-actors can be influenced in guiding their own attention by representations of what the co-actor also holds in memory (He et al. under review). This demonstrates an effect of interpersonal memory on attention. Here, we tested how this interpersonal memory effect is affected by the relationship between the actors. Participants searched for targets while maintaining images in working memory or after previewed images that co-actors had to memorise. We examined three groups: Caucasian strangers (low ingroup relations) and two other groups with likely higher ingroup relations (Caucasian friends and Chinese participants living in Britain). In all three groups, attention was directed to stimuli that matched the item the individual had to memorise. However, images that had to be memorised by co-actors only attracted the attention of Caucasian strangers but not the Caucasian friends and Chinese participants. We suggest that interpersonal memory-based guidance of attention is modulated by the nature of the relationship between individuals and reduces when individuals have higher ingroup relations.


Working memory Visual attention Memory-based guidance Interpersonal processing Ingroup 



This work was supported by a grant from the Economic and Social Research Council, UK.

Ethical statements

The study has been approved by the Ethics Committee in University of Birmingham and hence been performed in accordance with the Declaration of Helsinki standards. All participants gave informed consent prior to their participation in the study. The authors do not have any financial relationship with the organisation that sponsored the research.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Behavioural Brain SciencesSchool of Psychology, College of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of BirminghamBirminghamUK
  2. 2.Department of Psychology and Centre for Cognitive ScienceUniversity of TurinTurinItaly

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