The influence of cognitive and emotional suppression on overgeneral autobiographical memory retrieval

Consciousness and Cognition 22 (3):965-974 (2013)
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Over-general autobiographical memory retrieval is characterized by retrieval of categoric autobiographical memories. According to the CarFAX model, this tendency may result from avoidance which functions to protect the person against recalling details of upsetting memories. This study tested whether avoidance strategies impact on the ability to retrieve specific autobiographical memories. Healthy participants watched a negative video clip and were instructed to either suppress any thought , suppress any feeling , or think and feel naturally in response to the video. Participants then completed the Autobiographical Memory Test. Participants engaging in either thought suppression or emotional inhibition retrieved fewer categoric autobiographical memories than controls. These findings challenge the affect regulation component of the CarFAX model insofar as they suggest that regulatory strategies that aim to reduce awareness of adverse emotional memories do not necessarily lead to increased recall of categoric autobiographical memories



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