The present study used a directed forgetting paradigm to investigate whether socially anxious individuals show a memory bias for social information. Socially anxious and non-anxious participants viewed three types of words: socially negative, socially positive, and neutral. Each word was presented on a computer screen and was followed by a cue instructing participants to either remember or forget the word. A free recall test and a recognition test were then administered by asking participants to recall and recognize both "to-be-remembered" and "to-be-forgotten" words. When compared to non-anxious participants, socially anxious participants showed a greater directed forgetting effect for socially positive words in the free recall test, indicating that socially anxious individuals more easily forget socially positive words than do non-anxious individuals. This result suggests that socially anxious individuals lack the positive bias (i.e., difficulty in forgetting socially positive information) displayed by non-anxious individuals.
Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry, 42(2), 204-210