Fanning old flames: emotional and cognitive effects of suppressing thoughts of a past relationship

J Pers Soc Psychol. 1995 May;68(5):782-92. doi: 10.1037//0022-3514.68.5.782.


Cognitive and electrodermal effects of suppressing thoughts of an old flame were examined in 2 experiments. Participants were asked to think aloud about an old flame--a past close relationship that either was or was not still desired--as their skin conductance level (SCL) was measured. Participants continued to think aloud as they were instructed either not to think about their old flame or to perform a comparison task. Participants were then asked to think about the old flame again. Participants who had suppressed thoughts of a no-longer-desired relationship were inclined to think aloud more about it afterward whereas those who suppressed thoughts of a still-desired relationship did not show such a rebound but evidenced increased SCL.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Cognition*
  • Emotions
  • Female
  • Galvanic Skin Response
  • Humans
  • Inhibition, Psychological
  • Interpersonal Relations*
  • Male