Suppression of intrusive thoughts and working memory capacity in repressive coping

Elke Geraerts*, Harald Merckelbach, Marko Jelicic, Petra Habets

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


Previous research using a thought suppression paradigm found that repressors are more skilled in suppressing anxious autobiographical thoughts than low anxious, high anxious, and defensive high anxious people. Another line of research showed that individual differences in working memory capacity are related to the ability to intentionally suppress intrusive thoughts. This study aimed at combining these findings and sought to investigate whether repressors' superior ability to suppress intrusive thoughts is related to a larger working memory capacity. Results indicate that in a thought suppression paradigm, repressors report fewer intrusive thoughts for their most anxious experiences than participants in the 3 other subgroups. Furthermore, the superior ability of repressors to avoid intrusive thoughts can be explained largely by their higher working memory capacity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)205-218
Number of pages14
JournalAmerican Journal of Psychology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2007
Externally publishedYes


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