Effects of age, dysphoria, and emotion-focusing on autobiographical memory specificity in children

Lyndsey E. Drummond*, Barbara Dritschel, Arlene Astell, Ronan O'Carroll, Tim Dalgleish

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Citations (Scopus)


Overgeneral autobiographical memory (OGM) is strongly associated with depression in adults and appears to reflect a stable cognitive bias. However, it is not known whether this bias exists in children or what factors contribute to its development. We examined the roles of age, dysphoria, and a new variable, emotion-focusing (EF), on the production of specific autobiographical memory (AM) in children, using the standard Autobiographical Memory Test (AMT; Williams & Broadbent, 1986). Results show that older children are more specific than younger children, irrespective of cue valence. Dysphoria was linked to less specific retrieval of positive memories in children. A three-way interaction between age, valence, and dysphoria was also found, such that older dysphoric children demonstrated a difficulty in retrieving specific negative memories. In addition, emotion-focusing was associated with specific AM recall, especially to negative cues. Results are discussed with reference to the development of depressogenic biases.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)488-505
Number of pages18
JournalCognition and Emotion
Issue number3-4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2006
Externally publishedYes

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