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Memory. 2010 Feb;18(2):159-69. doi: 10.1080/09658210902992917.

Silence and the shaping of memory: how distracted listeners affect speakers' subsequent recall of a computer game experience.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT 84105, USA.


The present study focused on how distracted listening affects subsequent memory for narrated events. Undergraduate students experienced a computer game in the lab and talked about it with either a responsive or distracted friend. One month later, those who initially spoke with distracted listeners showed lower retention of information about the computer game, and their subsequent memories were also less consistent with their initial conversational recall. Differences in subsequent memory across initial listener condition appeared likely to be mediated by differences in the initial conversations elicited by responsive and unresponsive listeners. Results are discussed in terms of their implications for the social shaping of memory and identity.

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