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Abstract recall of a happy memory to repair sad mood in dysphoria: A possible link to negative cognition

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The capacity to repair sad mood through the deliberate recall of happy memories has been found to be impaired in dysphoric individuals. Rumination, or adopting an abstract processing mode, has been proposed as a possible mechanism underpinning this effect. In low and high dysphoric participants, we examined the relative consequences of adopting an abstract or concrete processing mode during happy memory recall or engaging in distraction for (1) mood repair and (2) cognitive content. Recalling a happy memory in either an abstract or concrete way resulted in greater happiness than distraction. Engaging in abstract recall of a happy memory resulted in high dysphoric participants generating negative evaluations and negative generalisations. These findings raise the interesting possibility that abstract processing of positive memories has the potential to generate negative cognition.
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Keywords: Dysphoria; Memory; Positive affect; Processing mode; Rumination

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: School of Psychology, The University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW, Australia

Publication date: August 18, 2015

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