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Selective memory bias for self threatening memories in trait anxiety

Saunders, Jo (2013) Selective memory bias for self threatening memories in trait anxiety. Cognition and Emotion, 27. pp. 21-36. ISSN 1464-0600

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Previous research has suggested that we tend to forget information that is self-threatening—an effect known as mnemic neglect. Three experiments are reported, which examined mnemic neglect in anxiety and whether high-anxious individuals show facilitated memory for self-threatening material. In Experiment 1, high-anxious participants were found to have facilitated memory for self-threatening information in comparison to low-anxious participants. In Experiments 2 and 3 boundary conditions to this memory bias for self-threatening memories were examined, which revealed facilitated recall of self-threatening memories when this information was unmodifiable (Experiment 2) and when this information was highly diagnostic of underlying traits (Experiment 3). The findings indicate that high-anxious participants show reversed mnemic neglect effects indicating increased access to self-threatening information. The findings suggest that high-anxious individuals do show memory bias for threatening information but only under certain circumstances.