Remembering why: Can people consistently recall reasons for their behaviour?



We explored how consistent individuals are over time in their recall of the reasons why they engaged in a past behaviour. The study was inspired by a research survey submitted in a copyright infringement case. Study participants listed the reasons why they acquired a particular CD, and repeated the survey several months later. We assessed the consistency of responses across time overall and at the individual level. Results indicate that both forgetting and memory distortion were common. Different types of inconsistencies were identified, and these responses were predicted by characteristics of the original memory and of individuals' preferences towards the CD. Implications for the legal field are discussed. Copyright © 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.