Retrieval-induced forgetting in repressors, defensive high anxious, high anxious and low anxious individuals

Jo Saunders, Rhian Worth, Smriti Vallath, Marcelle Fernandes

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Previous research has indicated that repressors forget more negative memories which may be due to enhanced inhibitory abilities. To investigate this issue the retrieval practice paradigm was modified for use with neutral and negative personality traits. In Experiments 1 and 2, participants chose neutral and negative traits which were self descriptive and then performed retrieval practice on the neutral traits. Repressors and low anxious participants were found to demonstrate forgetting of negative traits with repressors forgetting more negative traits than low anxious participants. In Experiment 2 the inhibitory account was tested by comparing retrieval practice with re-presentation. Retrieval practice led to forgetting but re-presentation did not. In Experiment 3 forgetting of neutral traits was evident in the repressors and low anxious groups but repressors did not exhibit increased forgetting. In Experiment 4 the cue independent method was used to examine inhibition for neutral material. All groups demonstrated forgetting but repressors did not demonstrate enhanced inhibition. These findings indicate that repressors demonstrate enhanced forgetting only for self referential negative information.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)97-112
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychopathology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2014


  • retrieval-induced forgetting
  • repressive coping
  • inhibition
  • memory

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