Autobiographical memory coherence and specificity: Examining their reciprocal relation and their associations with internalizing symptoms and rumination.


Center for the Psychology of Learning and Experimental Psychopathology, KU Leuven, Leuven, Belgium. Electronic address: [Email]


Autobiographical memories consist of different features that have been shown to relate to psychological well-being and psychopathology. Two such characteristics show quite some overlap, namely memory coherence and memory specificity, although their association has never been investigated before. In this study, we examined the association between memory coherence and memory specificity in a sample of first-year psychology students. Additionally, to gain more insight into the relation between memory coherence and psychopathology, we investigated the association with known correlates of memory specificity, namely internalizing symptoms and rumination. We found that narrating about personal experiences in a coherent manner is related to retrieving more specific memories. However, the association between memory coherence and memory specificity was rather weak. Furthermore, we found that memory coherence was negatively associated with the level of depressive symptoms and could predict these symptoms even after controlling for memory specificity and rumination. Given the potential clinical importance of these findings, future research should focus on examining the specific circumstances in which memory coherence is related to psychopathology, and on mechanisms that could explain this association.


Autobiographical memory,Internalizing symptoms,Memory coherence,Memory specificity,Narratives,Rumination,

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