Cue self-relevance affects autobiographical memory specificity in individuals with a history of major depression.
Crane C., Barnhofer T., Mark J., Williams G.
Previously depressed and never-depressed individuals identified personal characteristics (self-guides) defining their ideal, ought, and feared selves. One week later they completed the autobiographical memory test (AMT). For each participant the number of AMT cues that reflected self-guide content was determined to produce an index of AMT cue self-relevance. Individuals who had never been depressed showed no significant relationship between cue self-relevance and specificity. In contrast, in previously depressed participants there was a highly significant negative correlation between cue self-relevance and specificity--the greater the number of AMT cues that reflected self-guide content, the fewer specific memories participants recalled. It is suggested that in individuals with a history of depression, cues reflecting self-guide content are more likely to prompt a shift to processing of information within the long-term self (Conway, Singer, & Tagini, 2004), increasing the likelihood that self-related semantic information will be provided in response to cues on the autobiographical memory test.