Suppression and Repression to Discrepant Self-Other Ratings: Relations with Thought Control and Cardiovascular Reactivity


  • This research was supported by grants from the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Nova Scotia and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. I would like to thank Kim Calderwood, Melissa Cutler, and Tracy Mason for their assistance in conducting this research, and William F. Chaplin and three anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments on an earlier draft of this article. Requests for reprints should be sent to Karina Davidson, Department of Psychology, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada B3H 3J5.


ABSTRACT Individual differences in self-other disagreement may lap phenomena that have been notoriously difficult to assess. For example, subjects who believe they possess a trait while their acquaintances disagree may be exhibiting suppression. Further, subjects who deny a trait while acquaintances believe it is present may be displaying repression. In the first study, both subjects and their closest friends rated the subject's hostility level. Suppressors and repressors were expected to exhibit enhanced thought control, and indeed these individuals were more able not to think about white bears when instructed to do so than individuals for whom there was high hostility agreement. However, this was also true for those with low hostility agreement. Only suppressors demonstrated blood-pressure hyperreactivity to a hostility-provoking task as expected; this finding was replicated in a second study employing a different, multi-item measure of hostility, as well as a marker of low Agreeableness.