Review of Philosophy and Psychology

, Volume 4, Issue 1, pp 91–106 | Cite as

The Adaptive Function of Distributed Remembering: Contributions to the Formation of Collective Memory

  • Martin M. Fagin
  • Jeremy K. Yamashiro
  • William C. Hirst


Empirical research has increasingly turned its attention to distributed cognition. Acts of remembering are embedded in a social, interactional context; cognitive labor is divided between a rememberer and external sources. The present article examines the benefits and costs associated with distributed, collaborative, conversational remembering. Further, we examine the consequences of joint acts of remembering on subsequent individual acts of remembering. Here, we focus on influences on memory through social contagion and socially shared retrieval-induced forgetting. Extending beyond a single social interaction, we consider work that tracks the propagation of socially shared retrieval-induced forgetting throughout larger networks made up of several agents. Although much work has focused on how distributing cognition can augment memory, this is not the primary lesson we draw from the conversational remembering literature. Rather, mnemonic convergence between communicators is a boon to sociality. It allows the formation and maintenance of mnemonic communities, rather than expanding capacity or accuracy of memory per se.


False Memory Autobiographical Memory Collective Memory Social Contagion Conversational Interaction 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



We gratefully acknowledge the support of the National Science Foundation Grant BCS-0819067.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Martin M. Fagin
    • 1
  • Jeremy K. Yamashiro
    • 1
  • William C. Hirst
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyThe New School For Social ResearchNew YorkUSA

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