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    Are repressors so special after all? Specificity of negative personal events as a function of anxiety and defensiveness

    Dickson, J.M. and Moberly, N.J. and Hannon, Emily M. and Bates, G.W. (2009) Are repressors so special after all? Specificity of negative personal events as a function of anxiety and defensiveness. Journal of Research in Personality 43 (3), pp. 386-391. ISSN 0092-6566.

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    Repressors have been characterized as individuals scoring high on defensiveness and low on self-reported anxiety [Weinberger, D. A., Schwartz, G. E., & Davidson, R. J. (1979). Low-anxious, high-anxious, and repressive coping styles: Psychometric patterns and behavioral and physiological responses to stress. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 88, 369–380]. Using regression analyses, we tested whether repressors report negative personal events at reduced levels of specificity, as suggested by affect regulation accounts. Participants (N = 82) wrote brief descriptions of personal memories and imagined future experiences as prompted by emotionally negative cues. Participants rated these events for emotional intensity and importance before completing measures of defensiveness, trait anxiety and depressive symptoms. Defensiveness was associated with reduced accessibility of negative self-relevant material but, contrary to Weinberger et al.’s typology, this effect was not moderated by self-reported anxiety. Defensiveness functioned as a suppressor variable such that its inclusion in regression analyses yielded significant negative relationships between anxiety or depressive symptoms and event specificity, even though zero-order correlations between these variables and specificity were non-significant. Results suggest that research based on Weinberger et al.’s classification may underestimate the role of defensiveness in repressive coping and that researchers should consider measuring defensiveness when investigating the relationship between psychopathology and self-relevant cognition.


    Item Type: Article
    Keyword(s) / Subject(s): Defensiveness, anxiety, specificity, autobiographical memory, future thinking, repression, depression
    School: Birkbeck Faculties and Schools > Faculty of Science > School of Psychological Sciences
    Depositing User: Administrator
    Date Deposited: 28 Jul 2011 08:29
    Last Modified: 02 Aug 2023 16:55


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