Self-guides, autobiographical memory, and anxiety and dysphoria: toward a cognitive model of vulnerability to emotional distress.
Several aspects of a cognitive model of vulnerability to emotional disorders based on self-discrepancy theory were tested. Anxious, dysphoric, anxious/dysphoric, and control subjects participated in 3 studies over a 4-month period: screening, assessment of self-guides and self-discrepancies, and an autobiographical memory task in which different types of retrieval cues (including self-guides) were presented and subjects reported childhood memories as they came to mind. Actual:ideal discrepancy was associated with persistent dysphoria, whereas actual:ought discrepancy was associated with persistent anxiety. Self-guide cues resulted in more efficient retrieval and greater unintended negative emotional content than comparable cue types. The groups were differentiated only by negative affect content in response to self-guide cues.
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