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Supporting data for "Voluntary forgetting of negative social feedback"

posted on 2023-10-18, 04:06 authored by Hui XieHui Xie, Xiaoqing Hu

This dataset contains data of 4 studies reported in the Ph.D. thesis (Candidate: XIE Hui; Supervisor: Dr. HU Xiaoqing) entitled "Voluntary Forgetting of Negative Social Feedback" from Department of Psychology. In this thesis, we combined behavioral experiments with EEG and TMS techniques to examine the voluntary forgetting of undesired social feedback during both memory encoding (Study 1 and Study2) and retrieval (Study 3 and Study 4) stages.

Study 1 (Chapter 2) examined whether engaging in emotion regulation strategies (cognitive reappraisal and distraction) during the encoding of social feedback diminishes its subsequent recall. The results revealed that both strategies reduced negative emotional reactivity while facilitating the forgetting of negative social feedback. Additionally, individual differences in depressive symptoms impacted cortical electroencephalogram (EEG) patterns during emotion regulation. Moreover, the amplitude of the central-parietal late positive potential during distraction negatively correlated with participants’ depression level, indicating that individuals with higher depressive symptoms may benefit more from distraction than reappraisal to regulate emotions from negative social feedback.

Study 2 (Chapter 3) utilized repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) to investigate whether stimulating the critical brain region involved in the voluntary forgetting of non-social memories could enhance the voluntary forgetting of social memories. Two groups of participants were assigned to perform a directed forgetting task with either social or non-social materials. The results indicated that high-frequency rTMS applied to the right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (rDLPFC) improved participants’ ability to forget negative non-social memories, but this effect was not observed for negative social feedback. Interestingly, participants’ level of social anxiety predicted their difficulties in forgetting negative social feedback, but this correlation disappeared after improving their rDLPFC activation through rTMS.

Study 3 (Chapter 4) employed a modified version of the Think/No-Think paradigm to investigate whether retrieval suppression could induce the forgetting of positive and negative social feedback. The results demonstrated that retrieval suppression led to below-baseline forgetting for negative social feedback but not for positive social feedback. Furthermore, the results from event-related potential (ERP) and multivariate pattern analysis (MVPA) demonstrated that forgetting positive social feedback was more challenging and required greater cognitive effort than forgetting negative social feedback.

Building on Study 3, Study 4 (Chapter 5) explored whether reappraisal of negative social feedback after initial encoding could facilitate subsequent retrieval suppression and voluntary forgetting. Behaviourally, using reappraisal to distance oneself from negative social feedback promoted its voluntary forgetting. The ERP and MVPA findings suggested that reappraisal triggered increased engagement of inhibitory control processes during retrieval suppression, thus enhancing the effectiveness of memory control and ultimately facilitating the voluntary forgetting of negative social feedback.

This thesis presents novel evidence supporting the voluntary forgetting of unwanted social feedback through diverse strategies and approaches during memory encoding and retrieval stages. These findings advance our theoretical understanding of memory control in social contexts and hold practical implications for safeguarding mental well-being, particularly for individuals experiencing mental distress due to difficulties in spontaneously forgetting self-threatening information.


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