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Retrieval-induced forgetting deficits in high anxious individuals

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Previous research has indicated that high anxious individuals exhibit a memory bias for self-threatening material. This memory bias may be partly due to an inhibitory deficit whereby there is a failure to inhibit self-threatening information leading to an increase in anxious thoughts and memories. To investigate this issue, high and low anxious participants chose 10 neutral and 10 negative personality traits that were self-descriptive. In Experiment 1, participants performed retrieval practice on the neutral traits, and in Experiment 2 participants performed retrieval practice on the negative traits, while control participants completed an unrelated task. Participants then recalled all neutral and negative traits using a cued-recall procedure. Low anxious participants demonstrated a typical retrieval-induced forgetting effect (i.e., inhibition) for both types of trait, whereas high anxious participants failed to show the effect for negative traits but did so for neutral traits. The findings are discussed in terms of an inhibitory deficit in high anxious individuals.
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Keywords: Anxiety; Inhibition; Memory; Retrieval-induced forgetting

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Psychology, Swansea University, Swansea, UK

Publication date: November 1, 2012

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