Bridge ties bind collective memories.


Department of Psychology, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ, 08544, USA. [Email]


From families to nations, what binds individuals in social groups is, to a large degree, their shared beliefs, norms, and memories. These emergent outcomes are thought to occur because communication among individuals results in community-wide synchronization. Here, we use experimental manipulations in lab-created networks to investigate how the temporal dynamics of conversations shape the formation of collective memories. We show that when individuals that bridge between clusters (i.e., bridge ties) communicate early on in a series of networked interactions, the network reaches higher mnemonic convergence compared to when individuals first interact within clusters (i.e., cluster ties). This effect, we show, is due to the tradeoffs between initial information diversity and accumulated overlap over time. Our approach provides a framework to analyze and design interventions in social networks that optimize information sharing and diminish the likelihood of information bubbles and polarization.

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