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Individual differences in imagery and reports of aversions

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Recent theoretical models highlighting the role of imagery in trauma and aversion learning focus on the role of images in memory (e.g., Brewin, Dalgleish, & Joseph, 1996) and images as substitute stimuli in aversive conditioning (Dadds, Bovbjerg, Redd, & Cutmore, 1997). An unanswered question is whether individual differences in imagery are associated with different rates of traumatisation and aversion states (fear and avoidance of various stimuli). We examine one aspect of this: does high imagery ability correlate with the frequency with which people report aversions? Three samples of university students were tested on the Betts Questionnaire Upon Mental Imagery, the Tellegen Absorption Scale, and a new measure we designed to sample of range of aversions. As hypothesised, vividness of imagery showed positive correlations with number of aversions reported. This relationship held after controlling for general neuroticism and proneness to disgust. Results for absorption showed no relationship. The results are unable to disentangle causal paths but suggest a focus on individual differences in imagery vividness may be fruitful for understanding individual differences in aversion learning.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia 2: Griffith University, Brisbane, Australia

Publication date: July 1, 2004

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