Self-regulatory depletion and attachment avoidance: Increasing the accessibility of negative attachment-related memories Academic Article uri icon


  • Bowlby (1980) theorized that insecurely attached people use defensive memory suppression to cope with adverse events involving childhood attachment figures. In this study, defensive memory suppression was conceptualized as a form of self-regulation that, like other types of self-regulation, requires limited resources and may be undermined by the prior exercise of self-regulation. The findings of the study showed that, in the absence of self-regulatory depletion, memories of negative experiences with attachment figures were less accessible among persons who reported more dismissing avoidance. Under self-regulatory depletion, however, accessibility increased among persons high in dismissing avoidance. Depletion of self-regulatory capacity did not moderate memory accessibility for secure, preoccupied, or fearful avoidant attachment. The results imply that dismissing avoidant persons devote their limited self-regulatory resources to suppressing negative memories and keeping their attachment systems deactivated. 2011 Elsevier Inc.

published proceedings


author list (cited authors)

  • Kohn, J. L., Rholes, W. S., & Schmeichel, B. J.

citation count

  • 19

complete list of authors

  • Kohn, Jamie L||Rholes, W Steven||Schmeichel, Brandon J

publication date

  • January 2012