Role of Autobiographical Memory in social problem-solving and depression

Barbara Dritschel, L Goddard, A Burton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

246 Citations (Scopus)


Depressed patients frequently exhibit deficiencies in social problem solving (SPS). A possible cause of this deficit is an impairment in patients' ability to retrieve specific autobiographical memories. A clinically depressed group and a hospital control group performed the Means-End Problem-Solving (MEPS; J. J. Platt & G. Spivack, 1975a) task, during which they were required to attend to the memories retrieved during solution generation. Memories were categorized according to whether they were specific, categoric, or extended and whether the valence of the memories was positive or negative. Results support the general hypothesis that SPS skill is a function of autobiographical memory retrieval as measured by a cuing task and by the types of memories retrieved during the MEPS. However, the dysfunctional nature of categoric memories in SPS, rather than the importance of specific memories, was highlighted in the depressed group. Valence proved to be an unimportant variable in SPS ability. The cyclical links among autobiographical memory retrieval, SPS skills, and depression are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)609-616
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Abnormal Psychology
Publication statusPublished - Nov 1996




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