On the formation of collective memories: The role of a dominant narrator
To test our hypothesis that conversations can contribute to the formation of collective memory, we asked participants to study stories and to recall them individually (pregroup recollection), then as a group (group recounting), and then once again individually (postgroup recollection}). One way that postgroup collective memories can be formed under these circumstances is if unshared pregroup recollections in the group recounting influences others’ postgroup recollections. In the present research, we explored (using tests of recall and recognition) whether the presence of a dominant narrator can facilitate the emergence of unshared pregroup recollections in a group recounting and whether this emergence is associated with changes in postgroup recollections. We argue that the formation of a collective memory through conversation is not inevitable but is limited by cognitive factors, such as conditions for social contagion, and by situational factors, such as the presence of a narrator.