Is it only specificity? : an investigation into the relationship between autobiographical memory and social problem-solving
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Research suggests that deficits in retrieving specific autobiographical memories (ABMs) relate to deficits in social problem solving (SPS). Williams (1996) proposes depressed individuals have deficits in SPS because of difficulty accessing relevant information stored in specific ABMs. This thesis investigated the relationship between SPS and ABM. First, it explored a new version of the Means End Problem Solving task (MEPS; Platt, Spivack, & Bloom, 1975), which incorporates a wider range of social problems. Utilizing the MEPS, it examined multi-dimensional SPS across the mood spectrum. Chapters 3 and 5 indicated that depression is associated with general SPS deficits. However, Chapters 4, 5, and 6 demonstrated that dysphoria is not related to SPS deficits. Next, the thesis examined the relationship between specific ABM retrieval during SPS and SPS performance. Chapter 4 attempted to increase specificity of ABM through an imagery manipulation but was unsuccessful. Furthermore, specificity did not relate to SPS performance in Chapters 4, 5, and 6. Additionally, it explored characteristics beyond specificity that may be important to SPS. Although Chapter 5 reported differences in the memory characteristics between the control, dysphoric, and depressed groups, none of the characteristics in Chapters 5 and 6 related to SPS. Chapter 6 also found that individuals who reported more automatically retrieving memories performed better at SPS. Chapter 6 examined the relationship between intrusive memories and SPS and found that the more individuals reported memory intrusions, avoided and had negative appraisals of the intrusions over the past week, the poorer they were at SPS. This thesis demonstrates that specificity is not a fundamental component of SPS performance. Instead, generating specific memories and SPS may both rely on effectively utilizing the ABM structure. The thesis emphasizes the importance of exploring mode of retrieval in the relationship between ABM and SPS as well as the relationship between intrusive memories and SPS.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
Embargo Date: Electronic copy restricted until 24th July 2017
Embargo Reason: Thesis restricted in accordance with University regulations