Individual Differences in Memory in Relation to Emotional Stimuli

Katherine Morabito
Under the direction of Dr. Christine Larson, Psychology

Although research has been done showing that dysphoria correlates with an increased amount of mood congruent false memories in both dysphoric participants and negative mood induced participants, no research prior to this study has examined how inducing a negative mood in dysphoric participants affects mood congruent false memories. One hundred undergraduate participants viewed lists of depression-relevant, neutral and positive words that they were asked to recognize later among lure words. Participants were grouped as dysphoric, mid-dysphoric, or non-dysphoric as determined by BDI-II scores. This study hypothesized that dysphoric participants induced into a negative mood would have a greater number of mood congruent false memories than all of the other groups. A 2 x2 x3 x 3 – way mixed-model analysis of variance (ANOVA) with Mood Induction (positive, negative), Gender (male, female), and Group (dysphoric, mid-dysphoric, non-dysphoric control participants) as between-subject variables and Word Type (depression-relevant, neutral, positive) as a within-subject variable and correlation analyses were used to examine the depression relevant false memory results. Correlation analyses revealed that dysphoria is related to an increased amount of mood congruent false memories (r = .22; p< .04). The results of this study add to previous research in the field of depression and memory on a small scale. Further research in the area is needed for a more complete understanding of how memory functions in dysphoric individuals, and may be used to augment or create treatment techniques.