Colloquy: Do Interacting Groups Perform Better Than Aggregates of Individuals?

Why We Have to Be Reductionists About Group Memory

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Abstract

Recent examples of research about group processes melding individual-cognitive and social communicative factors have resulted in the application of concepts relevant to individual cognition to groups as a whole. Although based on a helpful metaphor, the practice risks resurrecting discredited “group mind” concepts. One particular concept, “transactive memory system,” implies that a group can “know” all of the knowledge of its individual members. Several studies showing that groups remember more information than do its individual members appear on their face to support this notion. However, a reanalysis of the results of these studies using Lorge-Solomon (1955) Model B reveals that the groups were not successful at pooling their members' knowledge. This conclusion implies that group interaction does not lead to efficient group information exchange.

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