Differential associations between impaired autobiographical memory recall and future thinking in people with and without schizophrenia

Tom J. Barry, David J. Hallford, Francisco Del Rey, Jorge J. Ricarte

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (SciVal)


Objectives: The ability to think about future events serves a range of important functions. People with schizophrenia show impairments in future thinking. However, whether these impairments are specific to positive or negative events and to what extent they are associated with impairments in verbal fluency and autobiographical memory remains poorly understood. Methods: People with schizophrenia (n = 93) and people without psychiatric diagnoses (n = 111) were asked to generate future events and retrieve past autobiographical events and they also completed a test of verbal fluency. Participants also completed questionnaire measures of the positive and negative dimensions of schizophrenia and depression symptoms. Results: People with schizophrenia generated significantly fewer positive and negative future events than controls. In a linear regression, the interaction between diagnosis and autobiographical memory retrieval explained a significant amount of variance in the number of future events that participants generated even when accounting for symptoms and verbal fluency. Past and future thinking abilities were correlated in controls but not in people with schizophrenia. Conclusions: People with schizophrenia may not rely on autobiographical content to imagine the future and may rely instead on semantic processes. Interventions that improve past and future thinking amongst people with schizophrenia are warranted. Practitioner points: Compared to control participants, people with schizophrenia have marked difficulty generating possible, positive and negative, future events. Unlike controls, for people with schizophrenia there is no relation between their ability to remember past events and their ability to think about the future. People with schizophrenia may have difficulty using their memories for their past to imagine and simulate possible future events.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)154-168
Number of pages15
JournalBritish Journal of Clinical Psychology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2020


  • depression
  • overgeneral memory
  • psychosis
  • specificity
  • verbal fluency

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology


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