The present study examines involuntary (spontaneously retrieved) versus voluntary (deliberately retrieved) autobiographical memories in relation to earlier registered goals measured by the Personal Concern Inventory (Cox & Klinger, 2000). We found that the important and not yet planned goals facilitate recall of goal congruent autobiographical memories which supports the idea of autobiographical memory facilitating goal attainment. Further, no differences between involuntary and voluntary memories with regard to frequency or characteristics of goal related content were found. Yet memories related to goals were rated as more central to the person's identity, life story and expectations for the future than non-goal related memories, irrespective of mode of recall. Interestingly, depression and PTSD symptoms correlated positively with the proportion of goal related memories, thereby questioning the functionality of goal related memories.
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7th Autobiographical Memory and Psychopathology Meeting, 2012