Repression: an investigation using implicit memory
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A new method for the empirical study of the Freudian concept of repression is proposed based on an implicit memory paradigm and a procedure of bringing current test stimuli into association with individualized conflictual material, some of which was previously repressed, such that the new stimuli, in turn, become subject to repression themselves. Implicit memory is revealed when there is enhanced performance on a task related to a previously exposed stimulus without explicit memory or conscious recall of that stimulus. Ninety-two college undergraduates were exposed to a list of matched sexual, "upset", and neutral words and then tested for their memory of those words using word stem completion and free recall. During the exposure phase, the experimental group was asked to think about an early sexual memory, in order to activate conflictual material, and to bring it into association with the stimulus words, while the control group thought about a neutral memory. The hypothesis is that there would be a diminished implicit memory effect for sexual words that had been brought into association with previously repressed material by the experimental procedure. Contrary to the hypothesis, implicit memory was significantly greater for the sexual words compared with the "upset" and neutral words. There was also a significant correlation between implicit memory and subjects' rating of the early memory, such that more unpleasant sexual memories were associated with increased implicit memory for sexual words and more unpleasant neutral memories were associated with increased implicit memory for upset words. Several explanations are offered for the results but it is suggested that the priming and word stem completion procedure offered subjects a relatively conflict-free avenue for discharge of loaded material and thus repression was unnecessary. The general methodology of using individualized conflictual material, that affects current stimuli, to study repression merits further investigation but efforts need to be made to minimize ways in which subjects can bypass the conflict. In addition, if subtle stimulus words and minimal cuing techniques are used, implicit memory remains a fruitful arena for the study of repression.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--Boston UniversityPLEASE NOTE: Boston University Libraries did not receive an Authorization To Manage form for this thesis or dissertation. It is therefore not openly accessible, though it may be available by request. If you are the author or principal advisor of this work and would like to request open access for it, please contact us at email@example.com. Thank you.
RightsCopyright by JACK BEINASHOWITZ 1994.