Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Valentiner, David P.

Degree Name

Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy)

Legacy Department

Department of Psychology


Aversion--Psychological aspects; Self-control


This dissertation reviews multiple operational definitions of suppression with the goal of integration and distinction. Out of this review, two theories emerge: (a) the Equivalency view that postulates that all operational definitions result in similar effects and (b) the Non-Equivalency view that postulates two types of operational definitions with different effects, one focused on the suppression of mental contents and the second focused on the suppression of expression. The first goal of this study is to test the Equivalency view versus the Non-Equivalency view. The second goal is to replicate past findings in both the instructional period and in a subsequent period when instructions are removed. One hundred and two participants were shown two disgust-eliciting films while their disgust-specific physiological responding was recorded in four physiological channels: heart rate, finger pulse amplitude, finger temperature, and skin conductance. The first film was shown with instructions to simply watch the film. Before the second film, participants were told to either (a) watch the film carefully, (b) think about the film in such a way that they would feel no emotions (reappraisal, a form of antecedent-focused emotion regulation), (c) behave in such a way that someone watching them would not know that they were feeling any emotions (suppression of emotional expression, a form of response-focused emotion regulation), or (d) suppress all thoughts of disgust (thought suppression). All participants then re-viewed the first film with instructions to ignore all prior instructions. The results provide a partial replication of past findings in the instructional period and provide support for the Equivalency view. No support was found for the Non-Equivalency view, suggesting a revision to Gross's Consensual Process Model of Emotion Regulation. No subsequent period effects were found. The Ironic Process of Mental Control theory is used to suggest a speculative explanation for the negative subsequent period results. This study makes an important contribution by beginning to integrate the thought suppression literature with the emotion regulation literature with the discovery of similar physiological effects for thought suppression and the suppression of emotional expression.


Includes bibliographical references (pages [133]-121)


xi, 134 pages




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