Applied Cognitive Psychology

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From the individual to the collective: The emergence of a psychological approach to collective memory

Summary Throughout much of the 20th century, psychologists have largely examined mnemonic processes through an individualistic lens at the expense of social influences. However, this perspective began to change toward the end of the 20th century and beginning of the 21st century, when psychologists began to better appreciate the social nature of remembering. In the present paper, we focus on a relatively recent and important evolution of this line of research: the emergence of a psychological approach to collective memory. Using an epidemiological approach to collective memory, we attempt to distil the extant and relevant psychological research and focus on how (collective) memories transmit, converge, and remain stable over time while considering the bidirectional relationship between collective memory and a mnemonic community's identity. We conclude with a discussion of research areas that psychologists should examine moving forward, which will ultimately provide a more holistic understanding of how collective memories emerge, remain stable, and/or change over time.

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