Cognitive Therapy and Research

, Volume 42, Issue 3, pp 230–235 | Cite as

Remoteness and Valence of Autobiographical Memory in Depression

  • Dahyeon KimEmail author
  • K. Lira Yoon
  • Jutta Joormann
Brief Report


We examined whether major depressive disorder (MDD) is associated with a tendency to recall more remote, specific autobiographical memories, particularly in the context of positive memories. To this end, individuals with MDD (n = 26) and healthy controls (n = 54) completed the Autobiographical Memory Test. Consistent with the hypothesis, remoteness of specific memories in the MDD group, but not the control group, depended on valence. Compared to the control group, the MDD group recalled more remote positive events. Additionally, the MDD group’s positive specific memories were significantly more remote than their negative specific memories. Retrieving remote positive memories might impair mood regulation and maintain an individual’s negative mood and perpetuate depression.


Depression Autobiographical memory Memory remoteness Valence effect 



This study is not funded.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

Dahyeon Kim, Lira Yoon, and Jutta Joormann declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

Animal Rights

No animal studies were carried out by the authors for this article.


  1. American Psychiatric Association. (2000). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (4th edn., text rev.). Lake St. Louis: American Psychiatric Association.
  2. Beck, A. T. (1987). Cognitive models of depression. Journal of Cognitive Psychotherapy: An International Quarterly, 1, 5–37.Google Scholar
  3. Beck, A. T., Steer, R. A., & Brown, G. K. (1996). BDI-II manual for the Beck Depression Inventory-II. San Antonio, TX: The Psychological Corporation.Google Scholar
  4. Demiray, B., & Bluck, S. (2011). The relation of the conceptual self to recent and distant autobiographical memories. Memory, 19(8), 975–992. Scholar
  5. Falco, D. E., Peynircioğlu, Z. F., & Hohman, T. J. (2015). Tendency to recall memories as a mediator of overgeneral recall in depression. Clinical Psychological Science, 3, 913–925. Scholar
  6. First, M. B., Spitzer, R. L., Gibbon, M., & Williams, J. B. W. (1996). User’s guide for the structured clinical interview for DSM-IV Axis I disorder version (SCID-I, Version 2.0, February 1996 Final Version). New York: New York State Psychiatric Institute, Biometrics Research Department.Google Scholar
  7. Gotlib, I. H., & Joormann, J. (2010). Cognition and depression: Current status and future directions. Annual Review of Clinical Psychology, 6, 285–312. Scholar
  8. Griffith, J. W., Sumner, J. A., Raes, F., Barnhofer, T., Debeer, E., & Hermans, D. (2012). Current psychometric and methodological issues in the measurement of overgeneral autobiographical memory. Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry, 43, S21–S31. Scholar
  9. Joormann, J., & Siemer, M. (2004). Memory accessibility, mood regulation, and dysphoria: Difficulties in repairing sad mood with happy memories? Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 113, 179–188. Scholar
  10. Lemogne, C., Piolino, P., Friszer, S., Claret, A., Girault, N., Jouvent, R., & Fossati, P. (2006). Episodic autobiographical memory in depression: Specificity, autonoetic consciousness, and self-perspective. Consciousness and Cognition: An International Journal, 15(2), 258–268. Scholar
  11. Levens, S. M., & Gotlib, I. H. (2009). Impaired selection of relevant positive information in depression. Depression and Anxiety, 26(5), 403–410. Scholar
  12. Liebowitz, M. R. (1987). Social phobia. Modern Problems of Pharmocopsychiatry, 22, 141–173.Google Scholar
  13. Raes, F., Hermans, D., Williams, J. M., & Eelen, P. (2007). A sentence completion procedure as an alternative to the autobiographical memory test for assessing overgeneral memory in non-clinical populations. Memory, 15(5), 495–507. Scholar
  14. Rubin, D. C., & Schulkind, M. D. (1997). The distribution of autobiographical memories across the lifespan. Memory and Cognition, 25(6), 859–866. Scholar
  15. Wang, Y., & Gorenstein, C. (2013). Psychometric properties of the Beck Depression Inventory-II: A comprehensive review. Revista Brasileira de Psiquiatria, 35(4), 416–431. Scholar
  16. Williams, J. M., Barnhofer, T., Crane, C., Hermans, D., Raes, F., Watkins, E., & Dalgeish, T. (2007). Autobiographical memory specificity and emotional disorder. Psychological Bulletin, 133(1), 122–148. Scholar
  17. Williams, J. M., & Broadbent, K. (1986). Autobiographical memory in suicide attempters. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 95(2), 144–149. Scholar
  18. Wisco, B. E., & Nolen-Hoeksema, S. (2010). Interpretation bias and depressive symptoms: The role of self-relevance. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 48(11), 1113–1122. Scholar
  19. Yoon, K. L., & Joormann, J. (2012). Stress reactivity in social anxiety disorder with and without comorbid depression. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 121(1), 250–255. Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of Notre DameNotre DameUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyYale UniversityNew HavenUSA

Personalised recommendations