Memory bias in health anxiety is related to the emotional valence of health-related words

Ferguson, Eamonn and Moghaddam, Nima G. and Bibby, Peter A. (2007) Memory bias in health anxiety is related to the emotional valence of health-related words. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 62 (3). pp. 263-274. ISSN 0022-3999

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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jpsychores.2007.01.015

Abstract

OBJECTIVES:
A model based on the associative strength of object evaluations is tested to explain why those who score higher on health anxiety have a better memory for health-related words.

METHOD:
Sixty participants observed health and nonhealth words. A recognition memory task followed a free recall task and finally subjects provided evaluations (emotionality, imageability, and frequency) for all the words. Hit rates for health words, d', c, and psychological response times (PRTs) for evaluations were examined using multi-level modelling (MLM) and regression.

RESULTS:
Health words had a higher hit rate, which was greater for those with higher levels of health anxiety. The higher hit rate for health words is partly mediated by the extent to which health words are evaluated as emotionally unpleasant, and this was stronger for (moderated by) those with higher levels of health anxiety. Consistent with the associative strength model, those with higher levels of health anxiety demonstrated faster PRTs when making emotional evaluations of health words compared to nonhealth words, while those lower in health anxiety were slower to evaluate health words.

CONCLUSIONS:
Emotional evaluations speed the recognition of health words for high health anxious individuals. These findings are discussed with respect to the wider literature on cognitive processes in health anxiety, automatic processing, implicit attitudes, and emotions in decision making.

Item Type:Article
Additional Information:OBJECTIVES: A model based on the associative strength of object evaluations is tested to explain why those who score higher on health anxiety have a better memory for health-related words. METHOD: Sixty participants observed health and nonhealth words. A recognition memory task followed a free recall task and finally subjects provided evaluations (emotionality, imageability, and frequency) for all the words. Hit rates for health words, d', c, and psychological response times (PRTs) for evaluations were examined using multi-level modelling (MLM) and regression. RESULTS: Health words had a higher hit rate, which was greater for those with higher levels of health anxiety. The higher hit rate for health words is partly mediated by the extent to which health words are evaluated as emotionally unpleasant, and this was stronger for (moderated by) those with higher levels of health anxiety. Consistent with the associative strength model, those with higher levels of health anxiety demonstrated faster PRTs when making emotional evaluations of health words compared to nonhealth words, while those lower in health anxiety were slower to evaluate health words. CONCLUSIONS: Emotional evaluations speed the recognition of health words for high health anxious individuals. These findings are discussed with respect to the wider literature on cognitive processes in health anxiety, automatic processing, implicit attitudes, and emotions in decision making.
Keywords:Anxiety, Attention, Association learning, Health anxiety
Subjects:C Biological Sciences > C800 Psychology
C Biological Sciences > C850 Cognitive Psychology
C Biological Sciences > C830 Experimental Psychology
C Biological Sciences > C841 Health Psychology
C Biological Sciences > C840 Clinical Psychology
Divisions:College of Social Science > School of Psychology
ID Code:5482
Deposited By: Nima Moghaddam
Deposited On:08 May 2012 18:12
Last Modified:26 Feb 2013 20:56

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