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J Pers Soc Psychol. 1995 May;68(5):782-92.

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

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  • 1Department of Psychology, University of Virginia, Charlottesville 22903, USA.


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.

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