Category: Adult Anxiety - Social

Symposium

Reliving the Past in SAD: Decoding the Mnemonic Architecture of Imagined and Recollected Social Successes and Failures

Friday, November 17
10:15 AM - 11:45 AM
Location: Sapphire Ballroom M & N, Level 4, Sapphire Level

Keywords: Social Anxiety | Cognitive Schemas / Beliefs
Presentation Type: Symposium

We investigated the mental images and associated autobiographical memories of past salient social failures and successes in individuals with social anxiety disorder (SAD; n = 40) vs. healthy controls (HC; n = 41). The Waterloo Images and Memories Interview (WIMI; Moscovitch et al., 2011) was administered twice by independent interviewers, two weeks apart, during which participants were instructed to describe mental images and associated memories of both positive and negative past social experiences. Image and memory narratives were audio recorded, transcribed, and coded. Results demonstrated that the groups did not differ in their rates of retrieval of positive and negative images and memories; however, individuals with SAD appraised their negative memories as more distressing, vivid, intrusive, and meaningful than HCs. Analyses of coded memory narratives revealed that participants with SAD recalled significantly more internal episodic details about their negative social experiences than HC. The more episodic detail recalled, the more vivid and intrusive the memory was perceived to be. All SAD-specific biases in subjective appraisals and coded narrative details were unique to recollected social failures and did not extend to remembered successes. This pattern of results was replicated at the second administration of the WIMI. Findings shed new light on the nature and impact of negative autobiographical memory recall in SAD, with potential implications for psychotherapeutic intervention.

David A. Moscovitch

Professor of Psychology
University of Waterloo

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Reliving the Past in SAD: Decoding the Mnemonic Architecture of Imagined and Recollected Social Successes and Failures



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