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The status of mood-congruent free recall bias in anxious individuals was evaluated following incidental encoding of target words. Individuals with high and low levels of trait anxiety completed a modified Stroop task, which revealed an attentional bias for threat-related stimuli in anxious individuals. This group was significantly slower in naming the colour in which threat-related words were displayed compared to neutral words. In a subsequent free recall test for the words used in the modified Stroop task, anxious individuals recalled more threat-related words compared to low-anxious people. This difference was significant even when controlling for the false recall of items that had not been presented during study. These results support the view put forward by Russo, Fox, Bellinger, and Nguyen-Van-Tam (2001) that mood-congruent free recall bias in anxious individuals can be observed if the target material is encoded at a relatively shallow level. Moreover, contrary to Dowens and Calvo (2003), the current results show that the memory advantage for threat-related information in anxious individuals is not a consequence of response bias.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





393 - 399


Adult, Affect, Anxiety, Attention, Cognition, Color, Cues, Fear, Female, Humans, Male, Mental Recall, Models, Psychological, Psychological Tests, Reaction Time