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Individual differences in source monitoring as a function of depression, stimulus valence, and encoding context in a college student sample

By Milena van der Laat


Source monitoring (SM) is the process of remembering when, where, and how memories were acquired. SM failures are associated with false-memory creation. This study hypothesized that depressed individuals are vulnerable to SM deficits; and that SM is subject to factors that influence memory in depressed individuals (mood-congruency and self-reference effects). College students (n = 335) classified into three BDI-based depression categories were compared on measures of recall, recognition, and SM. Participants listened to lists of personality traits matched on emotional valence, and rated their descriptiveness with respect to two encoding contexts. Half of the participants rated the words in terms of themselves and a friend, and the other half in terms of an active and a dominant person. These encoding contexts later served as sources in the SM task. Participants completed a free recall task immediately after each list of words. After the last list of words, participants completed a distractor task, followed by recognition and SM tasks, and lastly, by questionnaires, including the BDI. No evidence was found for depression deficits in recall, recognition, or SM. These results suggest that SM deficits are not descriptive of college students endorsing high BDI scores. In addition, this study found no evidence for mood-congruency effects in recall, recognition, or SM, even with self-referential encoding. These findings are discussed in terms of methodological limitations of the study, which included the use of college students as participants and the use of the BDI to measure depression and dysphoric mood. As predicted, self-referential encoding was associated with an item-source memory tradeoff. When stimuli were encoded in terms of the self, recall memory was significantly higher, and SM significantly lower, than when items were encoded relative to a friend. Although this study cannot rule out the potential confound of time factors, this pattern of results suggests that self-referent encoding has the potential to facilitate recall, and decrease the ability to remember the source of the recalled information. This result combined with the finding no differences in SM confidence for the self and friend encoding contexts, suggests that self-referent encoding is especially vulnerable to false memory creation

Topics: Psychotherapy|Cognitive therapy
Publisher: 'Purdue University (bepress)'
Year: 2004
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Provided by: Purdue E-Pubs
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