Effects of induced motion on the recall of threatening words as a function of anxiety

  • Elinor Sason

Student thesis: PsychD


Aim and contribution: The current study aimed to explore whether the use of a vection based intervention (induced motion) leads to improved memory of threat related material in high-trait anxious individuals. Considering evidence showing the importance of context-reinstatement for memory, the study’s original contribution to knowledge is that this is the first attempt to examine this in relation to threat related material and anxiety. Methods: Ninety students were allocated to three conditions of either watching a video depicting a train moving backward, or forward, or no video for the controls. The Spielberger trait-anxiety questionnaire (STAI) (Spielberger, 1983) was administrated to measure both state and trait anxiety. Following this, participants were required to memorise a list of 20 words, containing 10 threatening and 10 neutral words (Maddock, Buonocore, Kile, & Garrett, 2003). A distraction of 10 minutes duration was used in the form of Sudoku puzzles. Results: No significant difference was found between free recall of threat related words or neutral words in high-trait anxious versus low anxious individuals, when experiencing vection-based intervention compared to controls. Bower’s (1981) theory posits that the current mood of an individual affects his or her ability to encode and retrieve information. However, state anxiety did not increase over the course of the current experiment, which meant that at retrieval stage participants could not access their anxious mood in relation to threat words, which they might have felt at encoding stage. More research is needed to understand the relationship between context-reinstatement and memory bias in anxiety. Limitations and future directions are explored.
Date of Award12 Feb 2018
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Roehampton
SupervisorAleksandar Aksentijevic (Supervisor) & George Georgiou (Supervisor)

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