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Intentional avoidance and social understanding in repressors and nonrepressors: Two functions for emotion experience?

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Two putative functions of emotion experience — its roles in intentional action and in social understanding — were investigated using a group of individuals (repressors) known to have impaired anxiety experience. Repressors, low-anxious, high-anxious, and defensive high-anxious individuals were asked to give a public presentation, and then given the opportunity to avoid the presentation. Repressors were the group most likely to avoid giving the presentation, but were the least likely to give an emotional explanation for their avoidance. By contrast, they were not less likely than other groups to provide negative emotional explanations of another person’s behaviour in a film clip. We concluded that: (1) repressors are impaired in self- but not in other-explanation using emotion, implying that “simulation” is not the method used by repressors to ground their folk psychology, (2) the intentional avoidance shown by repressors is indicative of some intact first-order phenomenal anxiety experience but that they lack second-order awareness of this anxiety experience.
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Keywords: consciousness; emotion experience; folk-psychology; intentional action; phenomenal experience; repression; repressive coping style; social understanding

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Anglia Polytechnic University, Cambridge, United Kingdom 2: DeMontfort University, Leicester, United Kingdom

Publication date: 01 January 2003

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