Highly neurotic individuals tend to ruminate about negative aspects of their lives. Using an autobiographical memory task, the relation between neuroticism and recall latency of specific events was studied. It was predicted that the inverse relation between neuroticism and recall latency would be (a) strongest when subjects were given negative affect prompts and a negative prime; and (b) weakest when subjects were given positive affect prompts and a positive prime. Eighty college students completed a neuroticism scale and were randomly assigned to one of four cells formed by crossing Affect Prompt (positive vs negative) with Affect Prime (positive vs negative). Response times were analyzed using analysis of covariance (ANCOVA). Contrary to the hypothesis, no significant effects were observed. Based upon a two component model of autobiographical memory, it was suggested that highly neurotic individuals may be fast at searching for negative experiences, but because they are under chronic psychological distress, they find it difficult to link specific negative emotions with particular classes of daily events.
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