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Psychology

  • Date Submitted: 11/14/2013 06:41 AM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 32.5 
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A new line of research into repression has been developed by Myers and Brewin (1994). People who have a tendency to use repression as a coping strategy can be identified by their scores on tests of anxiety and defensiveness. ‘Repressors’ score low for anxiety but, unlike truly non-anxious people, they score high on tests of defensiveness. Myers and Brewin identified female repressors and gave them and other groups, identified as low-anxiety and high-anxiety-highly-defensive, the task of recalling unhappy childhood memories as quickly as possible. The repressors took about twice as long to recall unhappy memories as the other groups. Researchers then set out to see whether the repressors had different childhood experiences—it might be simply that the repressors had fewer unhappy memories than the others. A semi-structured interview revealed that the childhoods of the repressors were characterised by very poor relationships with their fathers. This implies strongly that the reason why this group of women took longer to recall unhappy childhood memories was repression rather than a lack of unhappy memories.

The Myers and Brewin study is very significant because it is possibly the first successful demonstration of repression under laboratory conditions. As Eysenck (1998) has concluded, some forgetting is probably due to repression; most of the evidence, though, is still considered controversial. Cognitive psychologists have as yet no satisfactory way of knowing how common repression is or under what circumstances it occurs. Repression thus remains an important but frustrating concept in cognitive psychology.

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