An examination of self-defining memories, cognitive avoidance and metacognitive processes in depressed and non-depressed older adults

Sweeney, Mhairi Louise (2015) An examination of self-defining memories, cognitive avoidance and metacognitive processes in depressed and non-depressed older adults. D Clin Psy thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Abstract

Background: Self-defining memories (SDMs) are key memories that describe how a person has come to be the person they currently are. Key events in one’s life, and the way that they are recalled can have a dramatic impact on sense of self, and this can contribute to depression. Therefore understanding SDMs and the processes that affect their recall is of important clinical value. This research extends Singer et al.’s (2007) research by examining OAs with depression.

Research questions: This study examined the characteristics of depressed and non-depressed OAs SDMs along the dimensions of content, affective valence, memory specificity and the ability to derive meaning from memories. Additionally, the study explored contributors to overgeneral memory by measuring cognitive avoidance and assessing metacognitive factors in meaning making ability.

Methods: A cross-sectional between groups study of 16 depressed and 19 non-depressed OAs. Participants completed the Montreal Cognitive Assessment, the Geriatric Depression Scale, the Metacognitions Questionnaire-30, the White Bear Suppression Inventory, the Self-defining Memory Task and the Self-defining Memory Rating Sheet. The groups were reasonably well matched on demographic variables except for education, gender and physical health problems.

Results: Depressed OAs recalled fewer specific memories than non-depressed OAs and were less able to derive meaning from their memories. However, when years of education was controlled for in a partial correlation, the correlations between depression scores, memory specificity and meaning making ability were no longer significant. Cognitive avoidance was not significantly correlated with memory specificity and metacognition was not significantly correlated with meaning making ability.

Conclusions: These results are broadly consistent with previous studies of overgeneral memory in individuals with depression. The results raise the possibility that years of education also contributed to the differences between the two groups and so potential interpretations of this finding are also presented. None of the psychological mechanisms investigated were significantly correlated with memory specificity or integrative meaning. Larger samples and demographically matched groups are required to conduct mediation analyses on factors influencing over general memory and meaning making ability in SDMs.
Keywords: Depression; self-defining memories; memory specificity; avoidance; and metacognition.

Item Type: Thesis (D Clin Psy)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Depression; self-defining memories; memory specificity; avoidance; and metacognition.
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Colleges/Schools: College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Health and Wellbeing > Mental Health and Wellbeing
Supervisor's Name: McLeod, Dr. Hamish
Date of Award: 2015
Depositing User: Dr Mhairi Louise Sweeney
Unique ID: glathesis:2015-6748
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 13 Oct 2015 10:21
Last Modified: 22 Oct 2015 09:24
URI: http://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/6748

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