Suppressing thoughts of past events: Are repressive copers good suppressors?

Amanda J. Barnier*, Kirsty Levin, Alena Maher

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Citations (Scopus)


We investigated the ability of individuals with a "repressive coping style" to strategically control thoughts of events from their past, which made them feel either proud or embarrassed, within the thought suppression paradigm. We examined whether (low) anxiety and (high) defensiveness interacts to influence suppression success over and above anxiety and defensiveness alone using low anxious, repressor, high anxious, and defensive high anxious groups. For the emotionally positive "proud event", all groups avoided event-related thoughts when instructed to suppress. For the emotionally negative "embarrassed event", repressors reported fewer event-related thoughts than all other groups, even when not instructed to suppress. Repressors also reported the lowest level of suppression effort and showed no " rebound". We discuss repressors' memory performance in terms of their natural tendency to avoid negative self-referent material, and thought and memory control in everyday life.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)513-531
Number of pages19
JournalCognition and Emotion
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2004
Externally publishedYes


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