Autobiographical memories of anxiety-related experiences.
Ninety-nine undergraduate students retrieved three memories associated with each of the five emotional experiences: panic, trauma, worry, social anxiety, and feeling content. Subsequently, they answered 24 questions assessing properties of each memory, including the vividness and perceived accuracy of the memories and sensory, emotional, and anxiety-related experiences during retrieval. Memories were coded for affective tone and specificity. Results indicated that panic-related and trauma-related memories were rated similarly as content memories, but that they generally were associated with more imagery and emotional experiencing than worry-related or social anxiety-related memories. Participants experienced panic and worry symptoms to the greatest degree when they retrieved panic-related and trauma-related memories. All anxiety-related memories were characterized by more negative tone than content memories. Panic-related and trauma-related memories were more specific than worry-related, social anxiety-related, and content memories. These findings can explain partially why individuals with some, but not all, anxiety disorders experience enhanced memory for threatening material.
Wenzel, A; Pinna, K; Rubin, DC
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