Alignment, Transactive Memory, and Collective Cognitive Systems


Research on linguistic interaction suggests that two or more individuals can sometimes form adaptive and cohesive systems. We describe an "alignment system" as a loosely interconnected set of cognitive processes that facilitate social interactions. As a dynamic, multi-component system, it is responsive to higher-level cognitive states such as shared beliefs and intentions (those involving collective intentionality) but can also give rise to such shared cognitive states via bottom-up processes. As an example of putative group cognition we turn to transactive memory and suggest how further research on alignment in these cases might reveal how such systems can be genuinely described as cognitive. Finally, we address a prominent critique of collective cognitive systems, arguing that there is much empirical and explanatory benefit to be gained from considering the possibility of group cognitive systems, especially in the context of small-group human interaction. © 2013 Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht.

Publication Title

Review of Philosophy and Psychology