Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2019

Document Type


Type of Thesis

Departmental Honors


Psychology & Neuroscience

First Advisor

Akira Miyake

Second Advisor

Lewis Harvey

Third Advisor

Alison Vigers


This study aimed to replicate an earlier finding (Gustavson & Miyake, 2016) indicating that working memory (WM) updating — the ability to constantly monitor and update (add and/or delete) information in WM — is significantly correlated with levels of trait worry. In addition, this study examined how a related but more general construct that encompasses both worry and rumination, repetitive negative thinking (RNT), correlated with people’s performance on a working memory updating task. In this study, a total of 226 participants performed a previously used WM updating task with a simplified design and modified instructions aimed to further encourage WM updating. In addition, participants completed a host of clinical questionnaires that included trait worry and two measures of RNT. The accuracy and reaction time results for the main experimental manipulation were in line with the predicted patterns, but, contrary to a priori hypotheses, the study did not reveal a robust relationship between levels of worry and WM updating performance. Possible reasons for the failure to replicate the main finding as well as further research directions are discussed.