Sunday, 15 January 2012

Accuracy of collective/collaborative memories

"Memories are always being negotiated, fought over and shaped by the memories of others." (Fernyhough, 2012)
We sometimes "wrongly incorporate information that has been provided by other people into our own memories," notes Fernyhough (2012). This is also known as "social contagion" caused by the "pressure to fall in line with the memories of family, friends and colleagues" which we often resist, but we occasionally fully believe in "other people's mistaken recollections of the past" (Fernyhough, 2012). In a study conducted at the universities of Hull and Windsor showed that "non-believed memories" (beliefs we no longer think are true but keep experiencing as memories) are reported by more than 20% of adults, showing that we constantly edit our memories, rely on others while "sometimes rejecting their veracity altogether".  Memories are shaped and reconstructed by the self who is doing the remembering, and the stories change when the person's beliefs and emotions change (Fernyhough, 2012).
"Collective memory has an extraordinary power, and it stems from the collaborative, reconstructive nature of memory itself." (Fernyhough, 2012)
We are engaging in "collective remembering" when we mark Remembrance days or anniversaries and there are other less formal ways of "publicly remembering the past". Social remembering, or "memory collaborations" can "diminish the accuracy of our memories, and groups of people sometimes remember things less effectively" than the individuals' remembering. How communal memories and its relation to personal memories or how collaboration helps and hinders memory" are still unresolved.

Fernyhough, Charles (2012) Shared memories and the problems they cause. [Online]