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An Exploration of Intolerance of Uncertainty and Memory Bias.


An Exploration of Intolerance of Uncertainty and Memory Bias.

Francis, Kylie (2011) An Exploration of Intolerance of Uncertainty and Memory Bias. PhD thesis, Concordia University.

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An Exploration of Intolerance of Uncertainty and Memory Bias
Kylie Francis, Ph.D.

Concordia University, 2011

Research shows that Intolerance of Uncertainty (IU) is related to excessive worry. Individuals high in IU appear to have information processing biases, which may explain how IU leads to worry. Specifically, high IU individuals appear to have an attentional bias for threat and uncertainty, and interpret uncertain information in a threatening way. While there is some evidence of a memory bias for uncertainty in high IU, findings are limited. The purpose of this study was therefore to explore the relationship between IU and memory biases for threat and uncertainty. Stimuli for use in the research were pilot tested in Study 1; this produced a set of word stimuli that included neutral, uncertain, social threat, physical threat, and positive words. Study 2 evaluated the relationship between IU and explicit memory for threat and uncertainty; the influence of worry, cognitive avoidance, and depression were also explored. Participants performed an incidental learning task and then completed recognition and free recall tests of memory. Results showed no relationship between IU and explicit memory for uncertain and threat words. However, three forms of cognitive avoidance—distraction, avoidance of threatening stimuli, and thought suppression—were related to recall of physical threat words. Study 3 examined the role of IU in implicit memory for threat and uncertainty, and the contribution of cognitive avoidance and stimulus relevance. Participants performed an implicit encoding task, and measures of explicit (recall) and implicit (tachistoscopic identification) memory. The results showed no relationship between IU and memory for threat or uncertainty. However, stimulus relevance was related to implicit memory for physical threat words. Interesting results again emerged for cognitive avoidance: thought substitution, avoidance of threatening stimuli, and thought suppression were related to implicit memory for physical threat words. Findings from the three studies were discussed in relation to the Williams et al. (1997) model, which predicts an implicit but not an explicit memory bias for threat among anxious individuals. Further exploration of stimulus relevance and cognitive avoidance were recommended for future research.

Divisions:Concordia University > Faculty of Arts and Science > Psychology
Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Authors:Francis, Kylie
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:Ph. D.
Date:20 April 2011
Thesis Supervisor(s):Dugas, Michel J.
Keywords:Intolerance of uncertainty, worry, information processing, memory bias
ID Code:7766
Deposited On:22 Nov 2011 14:05
Last Modified:18 Jan 2018 17:31



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