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Abstract

Previous research has shown that individuals who possess a repressive coping style have significantly poorer recall of negative childhood memories and also exhibit more comparative optimism for negative events than nonrepressors. The current study investigated whether there is a relationship between recall of childhood memories and comparative optimism. Repressors (REP, low trait anxiety–high defensiveness, N = 20) were compared with specific nonrepressor groups on trait anxiety and defensiveness: low anxious (LA, N = 16), high anxious (HA, N = 16) defensive high anxious (DHA, N = 13), and a non-extreme group (NE, N = 15) chosen from an initial pool of 163 female participants. For REP compared with all non-REP, age of earliest negative memory recalled was significantly older and REP recalled significantly fewer negative childhood memories. For REP only there was a significant correlation between number of negative memories recalled and comparative optimism, with high comparative optimism correlated with a low number of negative childhood memories recalled. There were no other significant correlations with comparative optimism, overall, or for any of the sub-groups. These results indicate a link between childhood and adult measures of social judgements for REP only. Copyright © 2004 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.