How We Remember Conversation: Implications in Legal Settings

Sarah Brown-Schmidt, Aaron S. Benjamin

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Memory for the content of our conversations reflects two partially conflicting demands. First, to be an effective participant in a conversation, we use our memory to follow its trajectory, to keep track of unresolved details, and to model the intentions and knowledge states of our partners. Second, to effectively remember a conversation, we need to recall the gist of what was said, by whom, and in what context. These two sets of demands are often different in their content and character. In this article, we review what is known about distant memory for conversations, focusing on issues that have particular relevance for legal contexts. We highlight evidence likely to be of importance in legal contexts, including estimates of how much information can be recalled, the quantity and types of errors that are likely to be made, and the situational factors that shape memory for conversation. The biases we see in distant memory for a conversation reflect in part the interplay of the conflicting demands that conversation places upon us.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)187-194
Number of pages8
JournalPolicy Insights from the Behavioral and Brain Sciences
Issue number2
StatePublished - Oct 1 2018


  • context
  • conversation
  • errors
  • law
  • memory
  • recall
  • recognition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Public Administration


Dive into the research topics of 'How We Remember Conversation: Implications in Legal Settings'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this