Cross-cultural exploration of the characteristics, content and themes of intrusive autobiographical memories recalled during depression

Stella Mihailova, Laura Jobson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


The recall of intrusive memories is highly prevalent during depression. While past research has examined memory themes and characteristics (e.g., frequency), possible cultural differences in these variables have not been investigated. Furthermore, cross-cultural research has documented content differences in voluntary autobiographical remembering, but such content analyses have not been conducted in regard to intrusive memories. This study, therefore, investigated the characteristics, content and themes of intrusive memories using a 2 (group: European Australian, East Asian) × 2 (depression: depressed, control) cross-sectional design. European Australian (n = 46) and East Asian (n = 45) participants living in Australia reported two memories in real-time using an online memory diary and rated the characteristics of their memories. East Asian participants reported more frequent and distressing memories, compared to European Australians, while the European Australian group reported more specific memories than the East Asian group. Most of the characteristics, themes and content variables, however, did not differ between cultural groups. Additionally, depressed participants, regardless of cultural group, reported more frequent, distressing and numbing memories, compared to healthy controls. These findings suggest that while depressive symptomatology impacts the experience of intrusive memories, memory content and characteristics are largely similar across the two cultural groups.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)701-711
Number of pages11
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 18 May 2020


  • autobiographical memory
  • culture
  • depression
  • Intrusive memories

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