Trauma-related versus positive involuntary thoughts with and without meta-awareness
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In earlier work, we asked subjects to report involuntary thoughts relating to a trauma film and also probed subjects periodically. Subjects often reported involuntary thoughts in response to probes, suggesting they lacked meta-awareness of those thoughts. But it is possible that some or all probe-detected thoughts were continuations of thoughts subjects had spontaneously reported, leading us to overestimate involuntary thoughts lacking meta-awareness. It is also unclear whether failures in meta-awareness occur for other emotional events. We exposed subjects to a negative or positive film. Subsequently, they reported involuntary film-related thoughts and responded to probes that distinguished new from continuing thoughts. Many (54%) but not all probe-caught thoughts were thought continuations. This result supports our earlier finding that people can lack meta-awareness for trauma-related thoughts, but suggests caution in how meta-awareness is assessed. We also found that self-caught negative and positive involuntary thoughts occurred at a similar frequency, with different characteristics.
© 2016 Elsevier Inc. This manuscript version is made available under the CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 license http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/