Two experiments investigated the extent to which the content of feedback and the style of post-event processing are associated with a bias in the retrieval of autobiographical memories by individuals high in social anxiety. In each experiment high and low socially anxious individuals responded to questions about autobiographical experiences, participated in a task involving real or imagined social encounters, and then recalled autobiographical memories. In Experiment 1 (n=50) participants focused on positive or negative feedback following the social task, while in Experiment 2 (n=59) participants engaged in either a ruminative or reflective response style following the social task. Experiment 1 showed that negative feedback led to the recall of memories with a significantly greater average anxiety rating only in the high social anxiety group. Experiment 2 demonstrated that the high social anxiety group who engaged in a ruminative response style recalled memories with the highest average anxiety rating. Implications of these findings for understanding the role of post-event processing as a maintaining factor in social anxiety are discussed.
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- social anxiety
- autobiographical memory
- post-event processing