The authors examined intentional forgetting of negative material in depression. Participants were instructed to not think about emotional nouns that they had learned to associate with a neutral cue word. The authors provided participants with multiple occasions to suppress the unwanted words. Overall, depressed participants successfully forgot negative words. Moreover, the authors obtained a clear practice effect. However, forgetting came at a cost: Compared with the nondepressed participants and with the depressed participants who were instructed to forget positive words, depressed participants who were instructed to forget negative words showed significantly worse recall of the baseline words. These results indicate that training depressed individuals in intentional forgetting could prove to be an effective strategy to counteract automatic ruminative tendencies and mood-congruent biases.
Joormann, J., Hertel, P. T., Brozovich, F., & Gotlib, I. (2005). Remembering the good, forgetting the bad: Intentional forgetting of emotional material in depression. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 114(4), 640-648.
Journal of Abnormal Psychology