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Are two heads better than one? Experimental investigations of the social facilitation of memory.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

<mark>Journal publication date</mark>1992
<mark>Journal</mark>Applied Cognitive Psychology
Issue number6
Number of pages19
Pages (from-to)525-543
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English


The hypothesis that two people collaborating in recall would remember more than a single person was examined in a series of four experiments. All the experiments used variations on the same sequential design where, in social conditions, people recalled alone initially and then recalled jointly in pairs: as a control for reminiscence, some people recalled alone on two separate occasions. On the second recall in all of the experiments two people always recalled more than one, but this was simply due to the independent statistical summation of two people's memories: no evidence whatsoever was found for the pairs of people generating new information that was not available to either member of the pair. This surprising result was not attributable to artefacts linked to the complexity or familiarity of stimulus material, nor was it linked to variations in people's cognitive perspectives. No evidence of social facilitation of memories was therefore found: two people recalling together certainly pool their separate memories so as to outperform individuals but the social interaction does not appear to generate previously unavailable memories.