Reduced autobiographical memory specificity affects general distress through poor social support

Tom J. Barry, Meghan Vinograd, Yannick Boddez, Filip Raes, Richard Zinbarg, Susan Mineka, Michelle G. Craske*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Sharing specific autobiographical events is likely to influence the support people give us; a person who shares little detail of their lives may be unlikely to attract social support and this may in turn contribute towards anxious and depressive symptoms. Participants (N = 142) reported memories evoked by negative and positive cue words and these memories were coded for whether or not they referred to a specific event lasting less than 24 h. At this time (T1) and one year later (T2), participants also completed the UCLA Life Stress Interview (LSI), which includes a measure of social support, and measures of depression and anxiety comprising a general distress latent construct. The tendency to recall fewer specific memories was associated with lower social support given by friends and romantic partners and this was in turn associated with elevated general distress at T2, even when accounting for T1 social support and general distress. Our findings contribute to the literature regarding the social function of memory and suggest another route via which reduced specificity contributes to emotional disorders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)916-923
Number of pages8
Issue number7
StatePublished - Aug 9 2019


  • Memory
  • adolescence
  • depression
  • overgeneral
  • specificity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • General Psychology


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