In Experiment 1, participants high (n = 15) or low in avoidance (n = 14), as measured by the Acceptance and Action Questionnaire, completed a simple matching task that required them to choose whether or not to look at an aversive visual image. Only the high-avoidance participants took longer to emit a correct response that produced an aversive rather than a neutral picture. Additionally, the high-avoiders reported greater levels of anxiety following the experiment even though they rated the aversive images as less unpleasant and less emotionally arousing than their low-avoidant counterparts. In Experiment 2, three groups, representing high-, mid- and low-avoidance (n = 6 in each) repeated the matching task with the additional recording of event-related potentials (ERPs). The findings of Experiment I were replicated in terms of reaction times and subjective ratings. The ERPs confirmed that the participants attended to the content of the images and differentiated between the aversive and neutral image types. The ERPs also showed significantly greater negativity for electrodes over the left hemisphere relative to the midline for only the high-experiential avoidance (EA) group. Given the left hemisphere dominance for language, the data suggest that the high-EA group engaged in verbal strategies to regulate their emotional responses. (c) 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.