The influence of confidence in memory on checking behaviours
Recent theories of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder have suggested that meta-cognitive beliefs, particular confidence in memory, may relate to the maintenance of symptoms. For example, individuals who worry that their memory is deficient may check in order to ensure that the doors are locked, regardless of their actual memory ability. While studies have related meta-memory beliefs to OCD symptoms, and have found that memory is affected by checking behaviours; to date, no experimental literature has attempted to ascertain whether lowered confidence in memory directly leads to greater checking behaviours. In the current study 46 non-clinical participants completed a battery of questionnaires measuring these constructs, before undertaking a “memory task” designed to manipulate their level of confidence in their memory. The effect of the manipulation on the level of checking on a visuomemory task was subsequently assessed. The questionnaires indicated that cognitive confidence predicted variation in obsessive-compulsive symptoms over-and-above the influence of depressive symptoms and other OCD-related beliefs. However, while confidence in memory was successfully manipulated, the group with increased memory confidence was not found to have lower checking behaviours. Limitations of the study are discussed and directions for further research are suggested.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder; Cognition; Memory