ISSN 1671-3710
CN 11-4766/R

Advances in Psychological Science ›› 2021, Vol. 29 ›› Issue (11): 2073-2082.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1042.2021.02073

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From individual to collective: Collective memory from a psychological perspective

GE Yaojun1,2, LI Hai3   

  1. 1Department of Physical Education, Shanghai University of Engineering Science, Shanghai 201620, China;
    2School of Leisure Sport, Shanghai University of Sport, Shanghai 200438, China;
    3School of Economics and Management, Shanghai University of Sport, Shanghai 200438, China
  • Received:2020-09-21 Online:2021-11-15 Published:2021-09-23

Abstract: The concept of collective memory put forward by Maurice Halbwachs in 1925 changed the then dominant individualistic tradition of memory research, opened up a new way of studying memory from a sociological perspective, and gradually established the sociological tradition of collective memory research. The psychological study of collective memory is incompatible with the sociological study of collective memory because it overemphasizes the individualistic perspective and neglects the social influence of collective memory.
The turn of collective memory psychology involves not only the definition of collective memory, but also the understanding of collective memory formation, the expansion of theories, and the reselection of research methods. The collective memory psychology originates from the proposal of Extended Mind and its application in psychology. Based on Interaction Theory and embracing the social quality of memory, the collective memory psychology has flourished in the past 30 years. Currently, the core issue of collective memory psychology is adopting the methodology of epidemiology, and comparing the formation and maintenance of memory to the transmission process of diseases. First of all, in formative research, by adopting a “bottom-up” approach, psychologists focus on communication memory. By studying the speaker's influence on the audience and the speaker him/herself, psychologists conduct a systematic exploration on the mechanisms of social contagion in collective memory formation, retrieval-induced forgetting and shared reality. They analyze the causes and influencing factors of memory network aggregation, unveil the process of transforming from individualistic to collective memory, and discover the formative feature of collective memory. On the other hand, in the aspect of maintenance, psychologists focus on existing memories. They adopt the “top-down” approach to explain the stabalizing mechanism and general psychological principles of collective memory. At the same time, as a common representation of the past, the identity relevance of collective memory has also been verified by psychology. In the future, first of all, the collective memory psychology needs to expand its scope, further the research of cultural memory, clarify the characteristics of different symbolic resources, promote the study on the effectiveness of cultural memory from individual perspective, unveil the general principles of individual psychological acceptance, and explore the identity relevance underlying cultural memory. All this will provide a new perspective for the study of cultural inheritance and protection. It is also necessary to pay close attention to the influence of media technology revolution on social network memory, promote the psychological study of collective memory in the media context, pay close attention to the representation and characteristics of collective memory in the new context, reveal the psychological mechanism of its formation and maintenance, as well as related influencing factors. The study of the breadth and depth of social network memory, the correlation between memory and identity, and the influence of the lasting network information storage on different generations' memory is to subvert the existing results of psychological study of collective memory, and shed light on both theory and reality. Finally, in terms of the status of collective memory psychology in China, scholars need to study the theories, methods and approaches of collective memory psychology in the West, carry on the localization of western models, promote dialogues between psychology and other disciplines, thus strengthening the theoretical system of collective memory psychology in China.

Key words: collective memory, dialogue, epidemiology, communication memory, cultural memory

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