Selective memory and depression: A cautionary note concerning response bias
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Studies of selective memory in depression have been guided by the hypothesis that depressed individuals excel in remembering negative information about themselves. The present paper argues that response bias must be considered as an alternative explanation of selective memory effects; specifically, it is proposed that in some situations depressives may be more willing, but not more able, to report remembering negative self-relevant information. Depressed, formerly depressed, and nondepressed female college students were given recall and recognition tests for positive and negative adjectives which they had previously selected as being self-descriptive. Depressed subjects were found to recall correctly more negative adjectives, produce more negative intrusions in recall, and produce more negative false alarms in recognition. However, a signal detection analysis revealed that depressives' memories, as indexed by d', were not superior to the other groups'; rather, they employed a more liberal criterion in making recognition judgments (beta). The hypothesis that depressives show a response bias favoring the report of negative self-relevant information was therefore confirmed and can account for both the recall and recognition results.
KeywordsFalse Alarm Response Bias Memory Effect Recognition Test Detection Analysis
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