Repression and effective coping styles



This study investigated the relationship between repressive coping style as defined by Weinberger (1990)—low reported anxiety and high reported defensiveness—and several individual difference measures related to general coping styles. Twenty-nine studies looking at cognitive, behavioural, and individual difference factors associated with repressive coping were tabulated and reviewed. In the current study 116 women and 32 men were administered a questionnaire including measures of personality, ways of coping, self-monitoring, interpersonal influence, and locus of control to further explore the repressor coping style. Two measures, as opposed to the usual one, were used to categorize repressors: the use of anxiety and social desirability measures of Weinberger, Schwartz and Davidson (1979) and the Gudjonsson (1981) method using Neuroticism and Lie scales from the EPQ(R). Analysis of variance showed that repressors reported using more positive/healthy and less negative/unhealthy coping styles. The results did not change substantially when more extreme scoring groups were used. Factor analysis of the scales revealed six clear factors relating to ways of coping; again, repressors scored highly on the factor denoting positive coping. It was also found that the Lie and Neuroticism scales of the revised EPQ personality questionnaire of Eysenck, Eysenck and Barrett (1985) could be used as a substitute for anxiety and defensiveness to predict repression with considerable success. However results from both one- and two-way analysis of variance indicated that the two different ways of classifying repressors was not totally inter-changeable as the overlap in results occurred only with highly significant effects. The results are discussed in the light of previous investigations into repression which suggested that repressors report an overly optimistic way of coping in order to avoid negative affect. Copyright © 1999 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.