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Previously depressed and never-depressed individuals identified personal characteristics (self-guides) defining their ideal, ought, and feared selves. One week later they completed the autobiographical memory test (AMT). For each participant the number of AMT cues that reflected self-guide content was determined to produce an index of AMT cue self-relevance. Individuals who had never been depressed showed no significant relationship between cue self-relevance and specificity. In contrast, in previously depressed participants there was a highly significant negative correlation between cue self-relevance and specificity--the greater the number of AMT cues that reflected self-guide content, the fewer specific memories participants recalled. It is suggested that in individuals with a history of depression, cues reflecting self-guide content are more likely to prompt a shift to processing of information within the long-term self (Conway, Singer, & Tagini, 2004), increasing the likelihood that self-related semantic information will be provided in response to cues on the autobiographical memory test.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





312 - 323


Adolescent, Adult, Autobiography as Topic, Depressive Disorder, Major, Humans, Memory, Middle Aged, Regression Analysis, Self Concept, Surveys and Questionnaires