Remembering Disputed Sexual Encounters: A New Frontier for Witness Memory Research

Davis, Deborah, Loftus, Elizabeth F. | January 1, 2015

This paper reviews sources of distortion in memory for sexual encounters, particularly those between intoxicated participants. We review factors leading to initial misinterpretations of sexual consent including the indirect nature of sexual consent communications, misleading cultural sexual scripts, misinterpretation of passivity, and others. In this context, we consider the way in which alcohol can both contribute to initial misunderstanding and promote specific distortions in memory over time. Finally, we discuss additional influences on memory, including motivations related to self-esteem, self-concept maintenance, or litigation, and the effects of social influence from sources such as friends, forensic interviewers or therapists.