Adult attachment and the suppression of unwanted thoughts

R. Chris Fraley, Phillip R. Shaver

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Dismissing-avoidant adults are characterized by expressing relatively low levels of attachment-related distress. However, it is unclear whether this reflects a relative absence of covert distress or an attempt to conceal covert distress. Two experiments were conducted to distinguish between these competing explanations. In Experiment 1, participants were instructed to suppress thoughts of their romantic partner abandoning them. Relative to control conditions, suppression resulted in a decrease in the accessibility of abandonment-related thoughts for dismissing-avoidant adults. Experiment 2 demonstrated that attempts to suppress the attachment system resulted in decreases in physiological arousal for dismissing-avoidant adults. These experiments indicate that dismissing-avoidant adults are capable of suppressing the latent activation of their attachment system and are not simply concealing latent distress. The discussion focuses on developmental, cognitive, and social factors that may promote detachment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1080-1091
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of personality and social psychology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 1997
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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