2020 Student Research Conference:
33rd Annual Student Research Conference

Sick of Being Sick? How Current Illness Bias Plays a Role in Symptom Frequency Recall

Allison R. Rice*, Margaret King, Nate Aldrich, Annie Schwend, and Connor Firth
Dr. Karen Vittengl, Faculty Mentor

This project investigated state-dependent memory in relation to recall of physical symptoms. 


125 students from a Midwestern university completed three online questionnaires, distributed across six weeks. Each participant ranked the degree to which they were currently experiencing certain medical symptoms or acute illness (cold, flu, pink-eye, etc.).  They also reported the frequency they were sick each year, an average rating of their overall symptoms when ill, and the degree to which they had experienced the same symptoms and illnesses over the past year. 


During the study 42 participants reported currently experiencing symptoms indicative of an illness.  Individuals currently experiencing cold, pneumonia, and influenza symptoms recalled greater frequencies of those past symptoms and number of those illnesses in the past year than when healthy, for all three waves. 


This study could help medical professionals be more cognisant of recall bias when asking for patient history.


Keywords: Illness, Recall Bias, State Dependent Memory, Psychology


Presentation Type: Poster

Session: TBA
Location: TBA
Time: TBA

* Indicates the Student Presenter
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