Reference : Memory suppression and its deficiency in psychological disorders: A focused meta-analysis
Scientific journals : Article
Social & behavioral sciences, psychology : Theoretical & cognitive psychology
Memory suppression and its deficiency in psychological disorders: A focused meta-analysis
Stramaccia, Davide F. [Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences > Max Planck Research Group - Adaptive Memory]
Meyer, Ann-Kristin []
Rischer, Katharina Miriam mailto [University of Luxembourg > Faculty of Humanities, Education and Social Sciences (FHSE) > Department of Behavioural and Cognitive Sciences (DBCS) >]
Fawcett, Jonathan M. []
Benoit, Roland G. []
Journal of Experimental Psychology. General
American Psychological Association
Yes (verified by ORBilu)
[en] It is still debated whether suppressing the retrieval of unwanted memories causes forgetting and whether this constitutes a beneficial mechanism. To shed light on these 2 questions, we scrutinize the evidence for such suppression-induced forgetting (SIF) and examine whether it is deficient in psychological disorders characterized by intrusive thoughts. Specifically, we performed a focused meta-analysis of studies that have used the think/no-think procedure to test SIF in individuals either affected by psychological disorders or exhibiting high scores on related traits. Overall, across 96 effects from 25 studies, we found that avoiding retrieval leads to significant forgetting in healthy individuals, with a small to moderate effect size (0.28, 95% CI [0.14, 0.43]). Importantly, this effect was indeed larger than for more anxious (−0.21, 95% CI [−0.41, −0.02]) or depressed individuals (0.05, 95% CI [−0.19, 0.29])—though estimates for the healthy may be inflated by publication bias. In contrast, individuals with a stronger repressive coping style showed greater SIF (0.42, 95% CI [0.32, 0.52]). Furthermore, moderator analyses revealed that SIF varied with the exact suppression mechanism that participants were instructed to engage. For healthy individuals, the effect sizes were considerably larger when instructions induced specific mechanisms of direct retrieval suppression or thought substitution than when they were unspecific. These results suggest that intact suppression-induced forgetting is a hallmark of psychological well-being, and that inducing more specific suppression mechanisms fosters voluntary forgetting.

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