Does RIF keep the doctor away? Evaluating health-relevant cognitive biases via retrieval-induced forgetting

Baldwin, Maddison M. (2023) Does RIF keep the doctor away? Evaluating health-relevant cognitive biases via retrieval-induced forgetting. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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Abstract Retrieval-Induced Forgetting (RIF) is a cognitive paradigm demonstrating that engagement in retrieval processes can lead to subsequent forgetting of competing information. Across two experiments we evaluated whether those with self-reported health anxiety exhibit impaired memory control for health-related material. In the initial phase, participants studied category-word pairs (e.g., HEART-break), after which they practiced retrieving half of the targets from half of the categories using a word-stem (e.g., HEART-br). Finally, they were asked to recall the target words associated with each category. In Experiment 1 (E1), a reduced RIF effect (i.e., worse memory for unpracticed items from practiced categories compared to unpracticed categories) was observed for health-related (e.g., HEART-blockage) word pairs compared to neutral (e.g., CARD-letter) word pairs, but this difference was not statistically significant. Likewise, Experiment 2 (E2) failed to observe a significant difference in the RIF effect between health-related and neutral word pairs, despite the inclusion of a supervised tasked and improved stimulus set. The RIF effect did not significantly correlate with scores from a validated measure of health anxiety in either E1 or E2. Therefore, our hypotheses were not supported. Potential explanations for these conflicting results are discussed, and future directions are provided.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Item ID: 16069
Additional Information: Includes bibliographical references (pages 66-90)
Keywords: retrieval–induced forgetting, memory, anxiety disorders, health anxiety, cognition
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > Psychology
Science, Faculty of > Psychology
Date: October 2023
Date Type: Submission
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Recollection (Psychology); Memory; Anxiety disorders; Cognitive psychology

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