Mindfulness increases recall of self-threatening information

Saunders, Jo and Barawi, Kali and McHugh, Louise (2013) Mindfulness increases recall of self-threatening information. Consciousness and Cognition, 22 (4). pp. 1375-1383. ISSN 1053-8100

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Abstract

Previous research has suggested that we tend to show impaired memory for self-threatening information, an effect known as mnemic neglect. Mnemic neglect is believed to be due to shallow processing or inhibition of self-threatening information. Mnemic neglect, however, could also be an example of experiential avoidance and mindfulness training has been demonstrated to counteract experiential avoidance. The current study was designed to negate experiential avoidance on a memory task via mindfulness training and attempt to increase recall of self-threatening information. Participants were exposed to a short intervention, either mindfulness or unfocused attention, before being instructed to read and later recall self-referent behaviors. The findings indicated that recall of self-threatening and other self-referent information was increased following the mindfulness but not unfocused attention intervention. The utility of mindfulness as a strategy for negating the experiential avoidance normally associated with self-threatening information and increasing memory performance are discussed.