Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Eberly College of Arts and Sciences



Committee Chair

Shari Steinman

Committee Member

Claire St. Peter

Committee Member

Natalie Shook


The Mnemonic Similarity Task (MST) measures mnemonic discrimination, or the ability to correctly identify new stimuli from highly similar, old stimuli. Neuroscientific and theoretical suppositions suggest that poor mnemonic discrimination may represent a potential risk or maintenance factor for anxious individuals. However, state affect appears to moderate the relation between mnemonic discrimination abilities and trait anxiety. The current study aimed to elucidate the nascent research on mnemonic discrimination and anxiety by evaluating the MST in a specific subtype of anxiety (i.e., social anxiety) and utilizing a clinically relevant stressor task (i.e., knowledge of a future speech). Participants (N = 131) were recruited based on their high or low-levels of social anxiety and were randomly assigned to a stressor condition (i.e., learning about the delivery of a future speech) or a control condition prior to the MST. Participants’ levels of self-reported state anxiety were measured throughout the study. Results did not indicate any significant effects related to social anxiety group (high vs. low social anxiety) or condition (stressor vs. control) on mnemonic discrimination abilities. However, this may have been due to the instability of the stressor manipulation or generally low levels of state anxiety across timepoints. Implications or results and future directions are discussed.