The Relationship between Autobiographical Self-Focus and Memory Specificity/Overgenerality: Differences between Individuals with and without a Diagnosis of Depression
Keywords:Autobiographical Memory, Specificity, Depression, Cognitive Complexity
Agencies:With funding from from the Gipuzkoa Regional Council (DG10/02), the University of the Basque Country UPV/EHU (General Grants for Groups, GIU11/29), and the Basque Government (Grants for Basque Research Groups, IT574-13).
Research has revealed that clinical depression is related to reduced specificity and/or overgenerality in autobiographical memory. We set out to investigate this relationship by comparing depressed (n = 40) and non-depressed (n = 40) individuals not only in terms of autobiographical memory specificity/generality, but also in terms of narrative structure. Specificity was assessed with the Autobiographical Memory Test (AMT; Williams & Broadbent, 1986) and participants also provided open-ended memories, which were analyzed for autobiographical cognitive complexity (Woike, 1994). Narrative differentiation, as an indicator of self-focus, was negatively related to specificity and positively to overgenerality of particularly negative autobiographical memories – but only in the depressed sample. Relationships were significantly different among non-depressed individuals. Results are discussed in the context of the relation between specificity/overgenerality and self-focus.