Hostname: page-component-848d4c4894-jbqgn Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2024-06-19T10:52:32.886Z Has data issue: false hasContentIssue false

Suppression of Negative and Neutral Thoughts

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  16 June 2009

Richard J. McNally
Affiliation:
Harvard University
Joseph N. Ricciardi
Affiliation:
Harvard Medical School

Abstract

Testing a variant of Wegner's (1989) “thought suppression” paradigm, we had subjects identify a personally-relevant negative thought that had been troubling them recently. Subjects were then randomly assigned either to a negative target thought group or to a neutral target thought (“white bear”) group, and randomly assigned either to an initial suppression condition (followed by a free expression period) or an initial free expression condition (followed by a suppression period). The results revealed that subjects in the neutral thought group experienced a decline in thoughts about white bears throughout the course of the experiment, whereas subjects asked first to suppress a personally relevant negative thought experienced nearly a three-fold increase in its frequency of occurrence when later given permission to express it. These findings suggest that negatively valent thoughts may respond differently than neutral thoughts following attempts to suppress them.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © British Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies 1996

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)

References

Becker, E., Roth, W.T. and Margraf, J. (1993, 09). “Don't worry and beware of white bears”: Thought suppression in anxiety patients.Paper presented at the Congress of the European Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Therapies,London, UK.Google Scholar
Clark, D.M., Ball, S. and Pape, D. (1991). An experimental investigation of thought suppression. Behaviour Research and Therapy 29, 253257.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Clark, D.M., Winton, E. and Thynn, L. (1993). A further experimental investigation of thought suppression. Behaviour Research and Therapy 31, 207210.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Kelly, A.E. and Kahn, J.H. (1994). Effects of suppression of personal intrusive thoughts. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 66, 9981006.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Lavy, E.H. and van den Hout, M.A. (1990). Thought suppression induces intrusions. Behavioural Psychotherapy 18, 251258.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Merckelbach, H., Muris, P., van den Hout, M. and de Jong, P. (1991). Rebound effects of thought suppression: instruction-dependent? Behavioural Psychotherapy 19, 225238.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Muris, P., Merckelbach, H., Van Den Hout, M.A. and De Jong, P. (1992). Suppression of emotional and neutral material. Behaviour Research and Therapy 30, 639642.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Roemer, L. and Borkovec, T.D. (1994). Effects of suppressing thoughts about emotional material. Journal of Abnormal Psychology 103, 467474.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Salkovskis, P.M. and Campbell, P. (1994). Thought suppression induces intrusion in naturally occurring negative intrusive thoughts. Behaviour Research and Therapy 32, 18.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Salkovskis, P.M. and Westbrook, D. (1989). Behaviour therapy and obsessional ruminations: can failure be turned into success? Behaviour Research and Therapy 27, 149160.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Trinder, H. and Salkovskis, P.M. (1994). Personally relevant intrusions outside the laboratory: long-term suppression increases intrusion. Behaviour Research and Therapy 32, 833842.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Wegner, D.M. (1989). White Bears and Other Unwanted Thoughts. New York: Viking/Penguin.Google Scholar
Wegner, D.M. and Gold, D.H. (in press). Fanning old flames: emotional and cognitive effects of suppressing thoughts of a past relationship. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.Google Scholar
Wegner, D.M., Schneider, D.J., Carter, S.R. III and White, T.L. (1987). Paradoxical effects of thought suppression. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 53, 513.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Submit a response

Comments

No Comments have been published for this article.