Repressive coping and threat-avoidance: An idiographic Stroop study

Leonard S. Newman, Lori C. McKinney

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


It has been found that people unintentionally direct attention to threatening stimuli, but it has been suggested that people with a repressive coping style can inhibit that automatic response. Support for this hypothesis is mixed, however. Consistent with other investigations of this issue, the two studies reported here used a variant of the Stroop procedure. Unlike past studies, though, threatening stimuli were identified idiographically. In line with the assumption that repressive coping is motivated by self-protection, self-concept threats were assessed separately for each participant. Repressors and control participants were presented with these threatening personality traits (i.e., traits they would least want to possess) and also with unfavorable but nonthreatening traits (some other participant's threatening traits). They named the word colors as quickly as possible. In both studies, only repressors failed to display Stroop interference effects when presented with threatening stimuli. Results indicate that repressors selectively avoid attending to threat-related stimuli.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)409-422
Number of pages14
JournalPersonality and Social Psychology Bulletin
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2002
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology


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