Trait anxiety reduces affective fading for both positive and negative autobiographical memories

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Abstract

The affect associated with negative events fades faster than the affect associated with positive events (the Fading Affect Bias; the FAB). The research that we report examined the relation between trait anxiety and the FAB. Study 1 assessed anxiety using the Depression, Anxiety, and Stress Scale; Studies 2 and 3 used the Beck Anxiety Inventory. Studies 1 and 2 used retrospective procedures to probe positive event memories and negative event memories while Study 3 used a diary procedure. The results of all 3 studies showed that increased anxiety was associated with both a lowered FAB and lower overall affect fading for both positive events and negative events. These results suggest that for people free of trait anxiety, the FAB reflects the operation of a healthy coping mechanism in autobiographical memory that is disrupted by trait anxiety.

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Walker, W. R., Yancu, C. N., & Skowronski, J. J. (2014). Trait anxiety reduces affective fading for both positive and negative autobiographical memories. Advances in Cognitive Psychology, 10(3), 81–89. https://doi.org/10.5709/acp-0159-0

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