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This article reviews the papers published in this Special Issue of Cognition and Emotion on Specificity in Autobiographical Memory. Together, the studies address some critical issues relating to the etiology of and mechanisms underlying the phenomenon of overgeneral memory. In terms of etiology, there is now substantial evidence of links between overgeneral memory and current or past depression, and between overgeneral memory and trauma history, and suicidal ideation and behaviour, independent of depression. In terms of mechanisms, three factors are emerging as the critical mechanisms underlying the phenomenon: Capture and rumination (CaR), functional avoidance (FA), and executive control dysfunction (X). Each of these has separately been found to produce overgenerality in memory; together they are almost certain to do so.

Original publication




Journal article


Cogn Emot

Publication Date





548 - 568