Searching Our Cognitive Social Networks: How We Remember Who We Know


Recalling people we know is a key cognitive function, influencing studies of contagious disease, how we see our relative position in the world, and who we invite to our weddings. Whereas social memory has often been studied independently from other memory research (e.g., Bond et al., 1985; Brewer et al., 1995), we focus here on possible parallels with search in other domains—in particular the thesis that search of social memory is governed by similar rules and processes as those that guide search in semantic memory and may involve executive processes. Such a connection would involve two claims: First, search in social memory dynamically transitions between local and global search strategies (similar to search of associative memory; SAM, Raaijmakers & Shiffrin, 1981). Second, as proposed for a domain general executive search process (Hills et al., 2010; Hills et al., 2008), dynamic transitions should recruit the general control of attention.

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