Cognitive Therapy and Research

, Volume 36, Issue 4, pp 375–389 | Cite as

The Impact of Attention Style on Directed Forgetting Among High Anxiety Sensitive Individuals

  • Melanie Noel
  • Tracy L. Taylor
  • Chelsea K. Quinlan
  • Sherry H. Stewart
Original Article


Results of research investigating the link between anxiety sensitivity (AS) and memory biases toward threat have been inconsistent. There may be subgroups of high AS individuals who differ in their preferred mode of attending to threat-related information, thereby impacting memory. The impact of individual attention style on intentional forgetting of words varying in emotional valence was examined among individuals with varying levels of AS. By incorporating an inhibition of return (IOR) task (to yield a proxy of attentional allocation) within the study phase of the item-method directed forgetting paradigm, we categorized high, moderate, and low AS individuals according to their attention style in response to threat stimuli: ‘threat attenders’ (small IOR effect) and ‘threat avoiders’ (large IOR effect). Among high AS individuals only, ‘threat avoiders’ showed greater intentional forgetting of threat-related words than ‘threat attenders’. High AS ‘threat avoiders’ also had higher levels of anxiety-related psychopathology (AS and health anxiety) than high AS ‘threat attenders’.


Anxiety sensitivity Directed forgetting Memory Attention 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Melanie Noel
    • 1
  • Tracy L. Taylor
    • 1
  • Chelsea K. Quinlan
    • 1
  • Sherry H. Stewart
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyDalhousie UniversityHalifaxCanada
  2. 2.Departments of Psychiatry, Psychology, and Community Health and EpidemiologyDalhousie UniversityHalifaxCanada

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