Examining the impact of thought substitution on intentional forgetting in induced and naturally occurring dysphoria

Saima Noreen*, Nathan Ridout

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Two experiments were conducted to determine if natural and induced dysphoria is associated with impaired forgetting and, whether a thought-substitution strategy would ameliorate any observed deficits. Study 1: 36 dysphoric & 36 non-dysphoric participants learnt a series of emotional word pairs. Participants were subsequently presented with some of the cues and were asked to recall the targets or prevent the targets from coming to mind. Half of the participants were provided with substitute words to recall instead of the original targets (aided suppression). At final memory testing, participants were asked to recall the targets to all cues. Dysphoric participants exhibited impaired forgetting, even when using a thought substitution strategy. Non-dysphoric participants, however, were able to use substitutes to suppress words. Study 2: 50 healthy participants initially completed the aided condition of the forgetting task. Participants were then given a positive or negative mood-induction, followed by another version of the forgetting task. Although all participants showed a forgetting effect prior to the mood-induction, only the positive group was successful at forgetting after the mood induction. Taken together, these findings do not support the utility of thought-substitution as an aid to forgetting in individuals in a naturally or induced dysphoric mood.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)280-288
Number of pages9
JournalPsychiatry Research
Early online date27 Apr 2016
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jul 2016

Bibliographical note

© 2016, Elsevier. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/


  • dysphoria
  • induced mood
  • intentional forgetting
  • think/no-think
  • thought substitution


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