Master's Theses



Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


The present experiment was designed to determine if individuals learn differently depending upon the psychological defenses they employ or the threatening versus neutral nature of the material to be learned. Characteristic modes of defense were defined by Byrne’s Repression-Sensitization (R-S) Scale and the measure of learning used was a paired associate task made-up of threatening and neutral word pairs taken from Ullmann, Weiss, and Krasner’s Perceptual Defense Test (PDT). The performance of 45 female college students with repressing, neutral, and sensitizing defenses was analyzed with a 2 x 3 analysis of variance and Duncan’s Range Test. Threatening words were learned more quickly by all groups at the .01 level of significance and inconclusive evidence indicated that the neutral words as quickly as the repressors or sensitizers. Results were discussed in terms of Easterbrook’s cue utilization hypothesis and the findings seem to suggest that the selective forgetting explanation of repression may be due in part to selective learning. It was hypothesized that both repressors and sensitizers may be more anxious in general than neutrals and the R-S scale might not be a linear relationship in the present context. Perhaps more significant results might have been obtained had the learning task proved to be more stressful.


Edna Rawlings

Date of Award

Summer 1968

Document Type

Thesis - campus only access


© 1968 Gary Edward Evans


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