Megan Lawrence

Thesis Title: What happens when we remember together? Investigating collective memory and collaborative recall across the lifespan

Abstract: Fear of memory problems and dementia affect 60% of older adults. For some people, these worries prevent them interacting with others. With the impact of this withdrawal on wellbeing – 3 in 10 older adults are lonely – this project aims to investigate ways to improve memory confidence and increase social interaction. ‘Collective memories’ are memories of shared events. These can be shared by many people (a war) or in smaller groups (a theatre show). We do not know the impact of age on these shared memories. There is evidence that some features of collective memories, like recalling them with other people and discussing them, shape people’s original memory of events. We also know that these conversations and interactions can boost wellbeing in some adults.

Here, we want to find out about the impact of age on collective memories. An important aspect of collective memory is ‘collaborative recall’. Here, people will experience an event together, and then recall it together. Younger and older adults will be assigned to small groups within their age category. The groups will experience an event, forming a shared collective memory. Over the next 18 months they will take part in three collaborative recall sessions. Individual assessments of memory, social judgement and social interaction will help us understand the development of collective memory. The work will reveal how we can use collaborative recall to improve life experience of older adults.

First Supervisor: Dr Charlotte Russell