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Clinical Trial
. 2001 Sep;130(3):520-33.
doi: 10.1037//0096-3445.130.3.520.

Expressive Writing Can Increase Working Memory Capacity

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Clinical Trial

Expressive Writing Can Increase Working Memory Capacity

K Klein et al. J Exp Psychol Gen. .

Abstract

The effect of emotional disclosure through expressive writing on available working memory (WM) capacity was examined in 2 semester-long experiments. In the first study, 35 freshmen assigned to write about their thoughts and feelings about coming to college demonstrated larger working memory gains 7 weeks later compared with 36 writers assigned to a trivial topic. Increased use of cause and insight words was associated with greater WM improvements. In the second study, students (n = 34) who wrote about a negative personal experience enjoyed greater WM improvements and declines in intrusive thinking compared with students who wrote about a positive experience (n = 33) or a trivial topic (n = 34). The results are discussed in terms of a model grounded in cognitive and social psychological theory in which expressive writing reduces intrusive and avoidant thinking about a stressful experience, thus freeing WM resources.

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