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Trait Anxiety and Biased Prospective Memory for Targets Associated with Negative Future Events

  • Lies NotebaertEmail author
  • Eleanor Jones
  • Patrick J. F. Clarke
  • Colin MacLeod
Original Article

Abstract

Cognitive models propose that elevated trait anxiety is associated with selective memory for negative information, although often no such effects are observed on tests of retrospective memory. One possibility is that no anxiety-linked biases in memory processes exists, however an alternative hypothesis is that trait anxiety may be associated with a bias in prospective memory, the process of remembering to carry out activities in the future. In two studies, high and low trait-anxious participants completed a prospective memory paradigm consisting of a lexical-decision task with embedded prospective memory targets. These targets signalled either negative (aversive noise burst) or benign (small monetary gain) future events. In both studies, results showed no significant effect of trait anxiety on prospective memory performance, and no interaction with target type. Thus, these results are in line with the research on anxiety-linked biases in retrospective memory, showing no evidence for a bias in prospective memory.

Keywords

Anxiety Cognitive bias Memory bias Prospective memory 

Notes

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

LN and CM were supported in part by the Australian Research Council under Grant FL170100167. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript. Authors PC and EJ declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Informed Consent

All procedures followed were in accordance with the ethical standards of the responsible committee on human experimentation (national and institutional). Informed consent was obtained from all individual subjects participating in the study.

Animal Rights Statements

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

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for the Advancement of Research on Emotion, School of Psychological ScienceThe University of Western AustraliaPerthAustralia
  2. 2.School of PsychologyCurtin UniversityPerthAustralia

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