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J Abnorm Psychol. 2001 Feb;110(1):76-82.

The effect of practice on recall of emotional information in individuals with generalized social phobia.

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Department of Psychology, University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia 30606, USA.


Understanding memory processes in social anxiety is important because these individuals often report negative memories of anxiety-provoking situations and because of the recent emphasis on learning and memory in models of anxiety. The authors examined the effect of learning on memory for negative social, positive social, and nonsocial information using the retrieval-induced forgetting paradigm in individuals with generalized social phobia (GSPs) and in nonanxious controls (NACs). Words were presented in 1 of 3 practice conditions: practiced words from a practiced category, unpracticed words from a practiced category, and unpracticed words from an unpracticed category. GSPs and NACs showed the same patterns of memory for practice categories for positive social and nonsocial words. However, for negative social words, GSPs benefited less from practice and were hurt less from the effect of practicing competing negative social information than were NACs. This pattern of processing may hamper GSPs' learning of, and habituation to, negative social information.

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