Great minds think alike: New measures to quantify the similarity of recalls

Alexandra F. Ortmann, Michael T. Bixter, Christian C. Luhmann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Given the recent interest in how memory operates in social contexts, it is more important than ever to meaningfully measure the similarity between recall sequences of different individuals. Similarity of recall sequences of different individuals has been quantified using primarily order-agnostic and some order-sensitive measures specific to memory research without agreement on any one preferred measure. However, edit distance measures have not been used to quantify the similarity of recall sequences in collaborative memory studies. In the current study, we review a broad range of similarity measures, highlighting commonalities and differences. Using simulations and behavioral data, we show that edit distances do measure a memory-relevant factor of similarity and capture information distinct from that captured by order-agnostic measures. We answer illustrative research questions which demonstrate potential applications of edit distances in collaborative and individual memory settings and reveal the unique impact collaboration has on similarity.

Original languageEnglish
JournalBehavior Research Methods & Instrumentation
StateAccepted/In press - 2023


  • Collaborative memory
  • Free recall
  • Memory organization
  • Similarity


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