Research on Mind Control

Wenzlaff and Bates
The Relative Efficacy of Concentration and Suppression Strategies of Mental Control

Richard M. Wenzlaff

The University of Texas at San Antonio

Danielle E. Bates

The University of Texas at San Antonio

Mental control research has found that attempts to suppress unwanted thoughts can backfire when cognitive demands arise or intentional control subsides. The present research examined the relative efficacy of an alternative form of mental control that involves concentrating on desirable thoughts instead of trying to suppress unwanted material. Using a novel cognitive measure that addresses some of the methodological issues associated with previous suppression research, a series of three studies indicates that a concentration strategy of mental control circumvents the problems associated with thought suppression. The findings are consistent with ironic process theory, which maintains that suppression invokes a monitoring process that is exclusively focused on goal-antithetical thoughts, whereas a concentration strategy involves a broader range of monitored thoughts that is less likely to undermine mental control.

This research lends support to the modalities employed in Ananda Marga Spiritual Practises.