Predicting the decay of collective memory

Cultural products have a life of their own: academic papers get cited and songs get downloaded. Surprisingly, public attention to these products shows a consistent pattern over time: a constant decline characterized by an inflexion point. This pattern might be due to how cultural products are discussed in the community and archived as cultural memories.

Access options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.


All prices are NET prices.


  1. 1.

    Mehl, M. R. & Pennebaker, J. W. Psychol. Sci. 14, 579–585 (2003).

  2. 2.

    Candia, C., Jara-Figueroa, C., Rodriguez-Sickert, C., Barabási, A.-L. & Hidalgo, C. A. Nat. Hum. Behav. (2018).

  3. 3.

    Hirst, W., Yamashiro, J. & Coman, A. Trends Cogn. Sci. 22, 438–451 (2018).

  4. 4.

    Olick, J. K. Sociol. Theory 17, 333–348 (1999).

  5. 5.

    Salganik, M. J., Dodds, P. S. & Watts, D. J. Science 311, 854–856 (2006).

  6. 6.

    Brady, W. J., Wills, J. A., Jost, J. T., Tucker, J. A. & Van Bavel, J. J. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 114, 7313–7318 (2017).

  7. 7.

    Coman, A., Momennejad, I., Geana, A. & Drach, D. R. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 113, 8171–8176 (2016).

  8. 8.

    Rogers, T., Milkman, K. L. & Volpp, K. G. M. J. Am. Med. Assoc. 311, 2065–2066 (2014).

Download references

Author information

Correspondence to Alin Coman.

Ethics declarations

Competing interests

The author declares no competing interests.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Coman, A. Predicting the decay of collective memory. Nat Hum Behav 3, 18–19 (2019).

Download citation

Further reading