Boelen, P.A., Huntjens, R.J.C., & Hout, M.A. van den (in press). Concurrent and prospective associations of habitual overgeneral memory and prospection with symptoms of depression, general anxiety, obsessive compulsiveness, and posttraumatic stress. Memory.
Reduced memory specificity is associated with depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and some other forms of psychopathology. Reduced memory specificity is also associated with reduced specificity of envisioned future events. Research in this area has mostly relied on cue-word methods that include explicit instructions to develop specific memories of future events. These methods are limited in their ability to assess how participants habitually remember the past and imagine the future when the specificity constraints inherent in the cue-word task are removed. Sentence completions tasks have been developed that can be used to assess habitual patterns of memory and prospection. Little is known about the association of habitual memory and prospection with concurrently and prospectively assessed psychopathology. In the current study 142 participants completed sentence completion tasks tapping habitual memory and prospection at baseline and completed measures tapping psychological symptoms at baseline and 1 year later. Among other things, it was found that reduced memory specificity (but not reduced future specificity) was associated with concurrent and later depression, as well as with symptom levels of PTSD tapped 1 year beyond baseline.