Cognitive Interdependence - Part 3

Additional papers
The 1995 divergence
Give a taste of some other work but then say that we're saving it for later.

In the Wegner et al. (1985) chapter, the authors mostly proposed the theory about transactive memory but they did also provide some experimental support. This blog post will try and outline some of the most early experimental work and how the work is interrelated.

The first experiment described in the initial book chapter was published separately as Giuliano and Wegner (1983). In this paper, the researches would bring two people into the lab and have them wrap string around one another. Though this sounds pretty silly, even to me, this process was intended to build a sense of cohesiveness between the dyads. The individuals then answered a series of questions styled after Family Feud where they were asked how they thought others would have responded to a general statement: "A place to sleep" "A place to get pizza" etc. Then the individuals discussed their guesses together, either with the person they wrapped together with the string or someone else. The researchers found that when the couples were 'close' they were more likely to create integrative responses. This just means that the choice they make for the "A place to get pizza" is different than either of their individual responses. This decision to change often came about because the members discussed their opinions and realized that each of them had forgotten some important information. This study suggests that together members were able to be more integrative and critical when they were more familiar with their partner

The second study is mentioned in Wegner's (1987) solo authored book chapter. In this case, and for much subsequent transactive memory research, the authors used dating couples (Giuliano  & Wegner, 1985). In this study, the couples were each given a set of cards with some information to memorize for 1 minute. Then they traded cards with their partner who received 30 seconds with the information. In this way, the participants each received some information randomly that would be easier for them to recall because they had more time with it. Also, the partner got to see the cards second so, while they did not have as much time to look at the information, they could create an internal list of information that their partner should be more expert at. Because the cards had general information on them, it is also possible that one member of the couple may be more familiar with information about computers, history, or popular culture than the other. The author of the study found that if someone saw themselves as an expert, they were more able to recall that information. Also, if a person was not an expert but they received more time with the cards, they also tried to recall more of that information. This suggests that the participants took more of an effort to remember things if they thought their partner was not an expert in the subject.

After these two studies, however, there was not much work done on transactive memory specifically until 1995. This would be a good time to mention time-lag in social psychoogical research. As I mentioned before, book chapters typically have limited editorial oversight. Journal articles, on the other hand, have significantly more with most journals assigning 3 or more reviewers per article. Very generally, once a paper is submitted to a journal, the editor looks at the paper and decides whether or not it is relevant to the journal and of sufficient general quality. If not, it is "desk rejected." The author receives some general feedback but nothing substantial. Though the rate at which this happens varies based on the journal, most journals send out desk rejections fairly quickly (within 4 weeks). This numbers can make the average period of review seem quite short for some journals since they include desk rejections as well as acceptances in the same calculation. Again, though their is variance by journal, I have heard that it can take anywhere from 6 months to 2 years between when a paper is submitted and accepted. Then it may take an additional 6 months to a year for the paper to be published, depending on the practices of a journal. These and other reasons can make the timeline of actual work a bit murkier.

In the early 90s, Diane Liang, a PhD student at the Graduate School of Industrial Administration at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, PA came across Wegner's research. From discussions from some of those involved, the experiment that would eventually become Liang et al. (1995) was conceived and completed sometime around 1991. Due to several reasons, possibly the long waiting time for journal acceptance, it took several years until the paper was published. The other authors of this paper would each go on to do very interesting work on TMS that I am sure I will discuss later. Richard Moreland was a social psychologist at the University of Pittsburgh who was interested in groups and training within groups. Linda Argote was a professor at GSIA and was beginning to conceive of and publish her influential line of work on organizational learning. As a component of this work, Argote had explored how learning occurs at the group-level as a possible component of larger-scale organizational learning. Though I do not know who proposed this line of work, the general goal of these researchers was to expand transactive memory to groups as opposed to dyads and to consider how the memory advantages of transactive memory might improves a group's ability to learn and perform. As a secondary contribution the authors attempted to show that training with those whom one will work with and on the task is much more effective than training using another task or with different people. This was proposed as a response to the research on team building exercises which had found little actual effect of their use on organizational performance.

This initial study was quite simple but it sparked a series of subsequent studies and jump started the exploration into TM in management literature. In this study, participants were brought into a lab and trained on how to build an AM radio using an electronics circuit kit. I am told the lab was actually a trailer sitting on the edge of CMU's campus though these trailers have since been removed. This kit consisted of a lot of small parts such as transistors, resistors, etc. The first time the group came together, they trained on building the circuit. One week later they returned to perform building the circuit. In one condition, the group was trained all together. In the other condition, each person trained separately. In the group training conditions the members could talk, strategize, and plan on dividing the task which those in the individual training condition did not have the opportunity to do. From video tapes of the group's performing, the researchers rated the groups on how well they were working together on three different factors: coordination, memory differentiation, and credibility. Based on Wegner's theory of transactive memory, the researchers proposed that these three qualities would be more prevalent in groups that had developed a TMS. The researchers were interested in 3 effects. First, did training condition directly influence performance? Second, did training condition influence the extent to which the group members engaged in those three factors: coordination, differentiation, and credibility. Lastly, did those three factors predict performance better than the training manipulation?