Macquarie University
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Collaboration and prospective memory: costs, benefits, and helpful processes for strangers and intimate couples

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posted on 2022-03-28, 19:45 authored by Catherine A. Browning
In this thesis, I examined the effects of collaboration on prospective memory (PM) performance – remembering together to perform future intentions. Given the ubiquitous social nature of our daily lives, there has been a long tradition of examining the effects of collaboration on remembering the past. This field of research has shown that collaborating with others is not always beneficial; when collaborating, individuals typically do not perform to their potential, but instead demonstrate an effect known as collaborative inhibition. However, recent research has shown that certain groups –particularly intimate groups who use certain communication strategies – collaborate more effectively. This is consistent with transactive memory theory, which predicts that intimate groups, through communication, develop an efficient shared memory system over time. To date, little research has investigated the effect of collaborating with others on PM. Therefore, across a series of four chapters and five studies, I systematically examined the effects of collaboration on PM in groups that varied in intimacy and PM ability. I examined collaborative PM in strangers, intimate couples, and couples where one partner had an acquired brain injury. I used a well-established laboratory PM measure – Virtual Week – in order to achieve experimental control with a task designed to simulate PM in daily life. Using Virtual Week, I was also able to test whether collaboration differentially affected tasks of varying difficulty. I also focused on individual differences within collaborating couples and examined communication processes during collaborative PM to determine what differentiates more successful, from less successful collaborators. Using findings from this qualitative analysis, I tested whether we can instruct groups to use strategies to improve collaborative PM performance, and whether these are better implemented on a group or an individual level. Overall, I aimed to bring together two fields of research and extend collaborative recall literature into the PM domain.


Table of Contents

Chapter 1. Introduction : collaboration and prospective memory -- Chapter 2.Collaborative prospective memory in strangers and couples -- Chapter 3. Successful and unsuccessful collaborative processes in strangers and couples performing prospective memory tasks -- Chapter 4. Group-level strategies help collaborative groups perform better on prospective memory tasks -- Chapter 5. Costs and benefits of collaboration with an intimate partner for prospective memory in acquired brain injury -- Chapter 6. Discussion and synthesis -- Appendix.


Theoretical thesis. "Department of Cognitive Science, ARC Centre of Excellence in Cognition and its Disorders, Faculty of Human Sciences, Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia" -- title page. Includes bibliographical references

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis PhD


PhD, Macquarie University, Faculty of Human Sciences, Department of Cognitive Science

Department, Centre or School

Department of Cognitive Science

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Celia B. Harris

Additional Supervisor 1

Amanda J. Barnier

Additional Supervisor 2

Penny Van Bergen


Copyright Catherine A. Browning 2017. Copyright disclaimer:




1 online resource (vii, 282 pages) colour illustrations

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