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Pierce, T., & Lydon, J. (1998). Priming relational schemas: Effects of contextually activated and chronically accessible interpersonal expectations on responses to a stressful event. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 75, 1441-1448.



The authors used a relational schemas approach to test the effects of interpersonal expectations on responses to a stressful event. In Study 1, a subliminal priming technique was used to demonstrate the causal influence of experimentally activated interpersonal expectations on affect, support seeking, and coping responses to a hypothetical unplanned pregnancy. Activation of positive interpersonal expectations increased reports of seeking emotional support and decreased the use of self-denigrating coping. Activation of negative interpersonal expectations decreased reports of positive affect and tended to impede growth-oriented coping. Chronically accessible interpersonal expectations, assessed by an attachment questionnaire, were also associated with affect, seeking of support, and coping. Study 2 undermined the possibility that the experimental findings obtained with this priming procedure resulted from a mood manipulation.

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