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Memory bias for bodily sensations in social anxiety

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Memory bias for bodily sensations in social anxiety

Ashbaugh, Andrea R (2008) Memory bias for bodily sensations in social anxiety. PhD thesis, Concordia University.

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Abstract

Cognitive models of social anxiety suggest that memory and attention towards threat are key factors in the maintenance of social anxiety. There is mounting evidence that individuals with social anxiety are engaged in self-focused attention, however there is little empirical evidence demonstrating that individuals with social anxiety exhibit memory biases for external threat information. Given that people with social anxiety tend to direct their attention towards internal aspects of the self, it may be that memorial biases are for internal cues of threat, such as bodily sensations, rather than external cues of threat. Two studies examined whether social anxiety is associated with a memory bias for cues associated with increased physiological arousal. In both studies, participants completed a performance task while monitoring what they believed was computer feedback about their bodily sensations; they were subsequently given free recall and recognition tests for the computer feedback. Study one examined whether individuals diagnosed with social anxiety disorder (SAD) exhibit a memory bias for their physiological response. Though there were no significant differences in memory for the computer feedback between SAD and control participants, among individuals with SAD only greater fear of bodily sensations was associated with better memory for the computer feedback. Study two extended the findings of study one by examining whether attaching greater importance to the meaning of bodily sensations enhances memory for those sensations. It was found that participants who were led to believe that bodily sensations were important indicators of the quality of their performance showed enhanced memory for the computer feedback compared to participants who were provided with a neutral interpretation of bodily sensations. Furthermore, among participants told that bodily sensations are important in predicting their performance, those reporting high social anxiety remembered more information indicative of increased physiology, whereas those reporting low social anxiety remembered more information indicative of stable or decreasing physiology. Implications for our understanding of memory and anxiety, as well as specific cognitive-behavioural models of social anxiety are discussed in relation to the importance of considering individual differences in beliefs related to social situations.

Divisions:Concordia University > Faculty of Arts and Science > Psychology
Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Authors:Ashbaugh, Andrea R
Pagination:ix, 135 leaves : ill. ; 29 cm.
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:Ph. D.
Program:Psychology
Date:2008
Thesis Supervisor(s):Radomsky, A
ID Code:976441
Deposited By: Concordia University Library
Deposited On:22 Jan 2013 16:26
Last Modified:18 Jan 2018 17:42
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