Eisma, M., Schut, H., Stroebe, M., Bout, J. van den, Stroebe, W., & Boelen, P. A. (in press). Psychopathology symptoms, rumination and autobiographical memory specificity: Do associations hold after bereavement? Applied Cognitive Psychology.
Symptoms of psychopathology are associated with overgeneral memory retrieval. Overgeneral memory is hypothesized to be the result of an emotion regulatory process, dampening emotional reactions associated with retrieval of distressing specific memories. However, higher post-loss symptom severity has been related to higher specificity of loss-related memories recalled on the Autobiographical Memory Test (AMT). This may imply that such memories are “immune” to the reduced specificity effect. We aimed to test this idea by investigating, for the first time, associations of depressive and complicated grief symptoms and depressive and grief rumination with autobiographical memory specificity on a sentence-completion task (SCEPT) in a bereaved sample. 191 adult mourners (89% women) filled out questionnaires and the SCEPT. A main finding was that higher depressive and complicated grief symptom and grief rumination levels were associated with reduced specificity of non-loss-related memories, but not with specificity of loss-related memories. Implications of these results are discussed.