Academic journal article International Journal of Psychological Studies

Locus of Control Associations with Autobiographical Memory as Measured by Free and Directed Memory Recall

Academic journal article International Journal of Psychological Studies

Locus of Control Associations with Autobiographical Memory as Measured by Free and Directed Memory Recall

Article excerpt


Reduced specificity of memory retrieval has been explained by self-ruminative thinking. However, the relationship between autobiographical memory and other psychological variables has been less frequently assessed. The relationship between personality variables and memory retrieval could also vary in function of task requirements. The main aim of this work was to explore personality traits related to self-perceptions that could explain a specific trend of retrieval: Locus of Control, Self-valoration, Life Satisfaction and Rumination. Furthermore, these relationships were explored under directed and free recall conditions. From the analysed variables, an Internal Locus of Control explained significantly specificity of recall in both conditions (free and directed recall). Rumination was explained by Life Satisfaction and specific memories obtained under free-recall conditions. These results suggest that probable effects of Locus of Control and self-perceptions on specificity of memories should be considered for its inclusion on memory search explicative models.

Keywords: Attribution, Autobiographical memory, Rumination, Self-perception

1. Introduction

Autobiographical memory mediates our identity construction process, provides resources to face future uncertainty situations and can play an enormous role in our present and future emotional status. This psychological construct has been supported by the development of the Self-Memory System (Conway & Pleydell-Pearce, 2000) and the CaR-FA-X (Williams, 2006) theoretical models. Autobiographical memories are considered transitory dynamic mental constructions generated from an underlying knowledge base which is sensitive to cues (Conway & Pleydell-Pearce, 2000). Research derived from these models has been focused on the causes that could explain differences in autobiographical recovering (personality, events or moods) and in the cognitive or emotional underlying mechanisms (Williams, 2006).

It is agreed that individuals with emotional disorders experience difficulties in generating specific memories of events to lists of word cues or an enhanced tendency to retrieve overgeneral autobiographical memories (OGM) when asked to retrieve specific memories of events in response to cue words (Williams & Broadbent, 1986). This overgenerality in autobiographical memory has been found to correlate with the prediction of persistence of depression (Brittlebank, Scott, Williams, & Ferrier, 1993; Dalgleish, Spinks, Yiend, & Kuyken, 2001). Overgenerality could be considered as a trait marker, rather than a state marker, that makes people vulnerable for depression (Brittlebank et al., 1993). However, it is not yet concluded whether difficulties in being specific could be an after-effect of trauma or of depression (scarring hypothesis) or, alternatively, may be an antecedent, making the development of depression or post-traumatic stress disorder more likely following a negative event (vulnerability hypothesis) (Williams et al., 2007). The Autobiographical Memory Test (AMT), as a procedure to obtain autobiographical memories in response to cue words, has been less frequently applied in non-clinical groups. However, the value of OGM as a vulnerability factor for depression has been also observed in samples that are not suffering from clinical significant pathology, predicting, for example, emotional (depressed) reactivity to stressful life events as a failed in vitro fertilisation treatment (Van Minnen, Wessel, Verhaak, & Smeenk, 2005) or showing a greater increase in depressive symptoms after a period of negative events among students with high levels of OGM (Gibbs & Rude, 2004). From an experimental perspective, a stressful puzzle task produced more subjective distress in high-specific than in low-specific individuals (Raes, Hermans, de Decker, Eelen, & Williams, 2003; Raes, Hermans, Williams, & Eelen, 2006). These results suggest that OGM not only constitutes a vulnerability factor for prolonged depression or depressive relapse, but also likely represents a marker of depressed reactivity and, possibly, a vulnerability factor for a first onset of depression in never-depressed individuals (Raes, Hermans, Williams, & Eelen, 2007; Serrano, Latorre, & Gatz, 2007). …

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