Forgetting in Social Chains: The Impact of Cognition on Information Propagation

Jose Drost-Lopez, Alin Coman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Listening to a speaker selectively practicing previously encoded information leads to better memory for the practiced information, but at the same time results in induced forgetting of related memories. These effects have been found to occur due to the concurrent, and covert, retrieval of information on the part of the listener. Using a modified version of the method of serial reproduction (Bartlett, 1932), this study explored the degree to which rehearsal and retrieval-induced forgetting effects propagated in 64 3-person-chains of connected participants. We manipulated the degree of concurrent retrieval from the part of the listener by activating high and low relational motivations during the listening task. We showed that the degree of propagation of retrieval-induced forgetting was larger when concurrent retrieval was activated (high-relational motivation) than when concurrent retrieval was attenuated (low-relational motivation). This study provides a framework that aims to bridge between micro-level cognitive phenomena and macro-level social dynamics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)390-409
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Cognition and Culture
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Cultural Studies
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


  • degree of influence
  • degree of separation
  • propagation of information
  • socially-shared retrieval-induced forgetting


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