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Reducing specificity of autobiographical memory in non-clinical participants: the role of rumination and schematic models
BARNARD, P.J., Watkins, E.R. & RAMPONI, C.
Cognition & Emotion, 20(3/4), 328-350
Year of publication:
Two experiments are reported in which non-dysphoric participants, not prone to excessive levels of rumination in everyday life, were asked to retrieve autobiographical memories using the Williams & Broadbent (1986) procedure (AMT). In the first experiment, two variants of a self-related category fluency task were interleaved among sets of autobiographical memory cues. In one variant (blocked) a normal model of analytic rumination was induced by grouping prompts on a single superordinate theme together. In the other (intermixed) prompts from several different themes were grouped together. It was predicted that the blocked variant would reduce the number of specific memories recollected and increase the number of categoric memories relative to the intermixed variant. This prediction was confirmed and provides the first demonstration of a bidirectional causal influence of analytic rumination on the balance between specific and categoric retrievals. A second experiment showed no alteration in this balance when the same fluency manipulation involved animal related categories rather than self-related ones. The results support a two component model of autobiographical retrieval being driven in part by the extent to which an analytic mode of processing is adopted in the short term and in part by the level of differentiation in self-related schematic models.