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Jefferson SInger

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Autobiographical memory functioning is critically related to the development and trajectory of mood disorders, most notably depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, although results are often mixed (Brewin et al., 1999; Dalgleish et al., 2003; Kuyken et al., 2006; Williams & Broadbent, 1986). This study seeks to examine the effect of adverse life events on autobiographical memory specificity in a group of college students with mild depressive symptoms. Participants completed a screening form with the Beck Depression Inventory – Second Edition to determine current depression status. After screening and drop-out, 48 total participants completed the Life Events Checklist for DSM-5 (LEC-5) and the Impact of Event Scale – Revised (IES-R) to determine the degree of stress resulting from some adverse event, and the Rosenberg Self Esteem Scale (RSES) to examine how self-esteem may “buffer” or regulate the effects of over-general memory. A modified, online version of the Autobiographical Memory Task (AMT) was also completed with nine total cue words. The hypotheses were that the overgeneral effect found in depression would be magnified by the interaction of adverse life event stress and that those with higher self-esteem would be less vulnerable to this effect as compared to those with low self-esteem. Although not independently predictive of memory specificity, interaction regression analyses confirmed the hypothesis that mild depression with an additive impact of significant life events predicted a lower number of specific memories. Self-esteem was also found to be a predictor of memory specificity at a marginal level (.07).



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