Dysphoric students show higher use of the observer perspective in their retrieval of positive versus negative autobiographical memories.
Nelis S., Debeer E., Holmes EA., Raes F.
Autobiographical memories are retrieved as images from either a field perspective or an observer perspective. The observer perspective is thought to dull emotion. Positive affect is blunted in depressed mood. Consequently, are positive events recalled from an observer perspective in depressed mood? We investigated the relationship between memory vantage perspective and depressive symptoms in a student sample. Participants completed the Autobiographical Memory Test (AMT; Williams & Broadbent, 1986) and assessed the perspective accompanying each memory. The Beck Depression Inventory-II (BDI-II; Beck, Steer, & Brown, 1996) and the Responses to Positive Affect questionnaire (RPA; Feldman, Joormann, & Johnson, 2008) were administered. The results showed a small positive association between depressive symptoms and the use of an observer perspective for positive autobiographical memories, but not for negative memories. Furthermore, comparing a subgroup with clinically significant symptom levels (dysphoric students) with non-dysphoric individuals revealed that dysphoric students used an observer perspective more for positive memories compared with negative memories. This was not the case for non-dysphoric students. The observer perspective in dysphorics was associated with a dampening cognitive style in response to positive experiences.