The current study examined memory specificity of autobiographical memories in individuals with and without a repressive coping style. It seems conceivable that reduced memory specificity may be a way to reduce accessibility of negative experiences, one of the hallmark features of a repressive coping style. It was therefore hypothesized that repressors would show reduced specificity when retrieving negative memories. In order to study memory specificity, participants (N = 103) performed the autobiographical memory test. Results showed that individuals with a repressive coping style were significantly less specific in retrieving negative experiences, relative to control groups of low anxious, high anxious, and defensive high anxious individuals. This result was restricted to negative memory retrieval, as participants did not differ in memory specificity for positive experiences. These results show that repressors retrieve negative autobiographical memories in an overgeneral way, possibly in order to avoid negative affect.

AMT, Autobiographical memory, Memory specificity, Repressive coping
dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jbtep.2011.05.007, hdl.handle.net/1765/31479
Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry: a journal of experimental psychopathology
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

Geraerts, E.G, Dritschel, B, Kreplin, U, Miyagawa, L, & Waddington, J. (2012). Reduced specificity of negative autobiographical memories in repressive coping. Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry: a journal of experimental psychopathology, 43(SUPPL. 1). doi:10.1016/j.jbtep.2011.05.007