Repression-sensitization differences in responses to a decision


  • The authors thank Julie deCarufel and Debby Sherk for assistance in running the experiment. A version of this paper was presented at the annual meeting of the American Psychological Association, Los Angeles, August 1981. Reprint requests should be sent to James M. Olson, Department of Psychology, University of Western Ontario, London, Ont. N6A 5C2, Canada.


Repression-sensitization differences in postdecisional dissonance reduction were investigated. Repressors (who typically employ “avoidance” strategies for dealing with threatening stimuli) and sensitizers (who typically “approach” threatening stimuli) were allowed to choose and keep, as payment for participation in the experiment, one of two pairs of long-playing record albums. Control subjects indicated which pair of albums they preferred, but did not expect to keep the albums. Measures of postdecisional intellectualization (an “approach” strategy for dealing with dissonance, which involves separating affect from cognition) showed that experimental sensitizers intellectualized more than subjects in any other group. Measures of postdecisional attitude change, on the other hand, revealed no differences between any of the groups. The implications of these results for our understanding of repression-sensitization differences in responses to a decision were discussed.