Social influences on remembering: Intellectual, interpersonal and intergroup components



When people recall an event collaboratively we may expect the product to be influenced by the combined cognitive resources of the group, interpersonal acquaintance of the members, and social competition engendered by salient intergroup considerations. Using undergraduate students and serving police officers as subjects, a range of experimental conditions was established which varied on the three factors of cognitive resources of the participants (Cognitive Resources), interpersonal acquaintance of the participants (Interpersonal Acquaintance) and professional salience (Professional Salience) of the recall material. Participants answered a questionnaire concerning a police interrogation they had witnessed, and rated how much confidence they had in their answers. Multiple regression revealed statistically significant associations between (i) Cognitive Resources and number of correct answers, (ii) Interpersonal Acquaintance and confidence for implicational errors, and (iii) Professional Salience and (a) number of implicational errors and (b) confidence in confusional errors. The theoretical implications for our understanding of memory as a social process are discussed, and the practical implications for courtroom testimony briefly described.