Autobiographical Memory and Imagining Future Personal Events: Event Specificity and Symptoms of Depression and Stress Following Exposure to an Analogue Trauma

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Abstract

The aim of the present study was to investigate whether reduced autobiographical memory and future event specificity were associated with elevated depressive and stress symptoms immediately and 1 week following exposure to a trauma film. A non-clinical sample comprising 101 participants completed all phases of the study, which included the following: baseline tests of autobiographical memory and future event specificity; a diary recording intrusions of the film over a 7-day period; and self-report questionnaires assessing depressive, posttraumatic stress and ruminative symptoms 7 days following the trauma film viewing. Overgeneral autobiographical memory was significantly related to deficits in the specificity with which participants imagined future events. Participants who were more specific when remembering past and imagining future events reported less intrusions related to the trauma film over the 7-day period following the film; however, event specificity was not associated with depressive and stress symptoms 7 days later. These findings suggest that reduced past and future event specificity may play a role in the experience of intrusions following the experience of a stressful event. Copyright © 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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