Sharing stories synchronizes group memories

Thursday, Sep 8, 2016
by B. Rose Kelly, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs

Consider your memories of 9/11. What time was it when you learned about the attack? Where were you? Who were you with?

By simply retrieving these memories, you are reinforcing how you remember this event. At the same time, you're pushing out more trivial memories, like what time you ate breakfast that day or what time you went to sleep.

But what happens when we communicate about these memories with others? Do our own recollections start to shift? Do our conversations shape how other people remember, too?

People do, in fact, synchronize what they remember and what they forget after sharing memories with one another, according to research published by Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. Known as mnemonic convergence, these collective memories are influenced both by a person recalling information and by those individuals sharing memories within a group.

Read the full story.