University of Hertfordshire

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)211-221
Number of pages11
JournalConsciousness and cognition
Early online date5 Jul 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2017


A study investigated how the ability to suppress thoughts in the laboratory was affected by type of thought suppressed (positive, negative, neutral), participants’ age and working memory ca- pacity (WMC). Linked variables (Use of thought suppression, social desirability, and mindfulness) were measured to assess whether they modified susceptibility to thought intrusion.
Younger, middle aged and older adults suppressed three different valenced thoughts in a counterbalanced order for 5-min per thought. Participants then completed a WMC task and questionnaire measures of the linked variables.
Valence had no effect on intrusions. WMC was positively related to intrusions; higher WMC corresponded to greater intrusions. Age was negatively related to intrusions; with increasing age intrusions decreased. Hierarchical regression showed only age and backward digit span (WMC) significantly predicted intrusions. The relationship between WMC and intrusions was not mod- erated by age. WMC and age both independently predict level of intrusion, and no synergistic effect was found.


This document is the Accepted Manuscript version of the following article: James A. K. Erskine, George J. Georgiou, Manavi Joshi, Andrew Deans, and Charlene Colegate, ‘Ageing and thought suppression performance: Its relationship with working memory capacity, habitual thought suppression and mindfulness’, Consciousness and Cognition, Vol. 53: 211-221, August 2017. Under embargo. Embargo end date: 5 July 2018. The final, published version is available online at doi:

ID: 12210091