ISSN 2043-8087
Journal of Experimental Psychopathology
 Volume 5, Issue 3, 244-258, 2014
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Investigating Functional Properties of Depressive Rumination: Insight and Avoidance

  Rosemary Kingston - Mood Disorders Centre, Psychology, College of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Exeter, UK
  Edward Watkins - Mood Disorders Centre, Psychology, College of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Exeter, UK
  Susan Nolen-Hoeksema - Department of Psychology, Yale University, New Haven, CT

Volume 5, Issue 3, 2014, Pages 244-258

It remains unresolved why people keep ruminating even though it confers vulnerability to depression. It has been hypothesised that rumination is reinforced by (i) increasing insight and understanding into difficulties and/or (ii) providing a rationale for avoiding taking action, thereby avoiding aversive situations. To test this, we used an experimental analogue to rumination about threat: Participants were confronted with being assertive about a difficult interpersonal issue, and randomly allocated to repetitively think about this in an abstract style characteristic of depressive rumination ("Why?") or a concrete style inconsistent with depressive rumination ("How?"). Relative to abstract rumination, concrete thinking significantly enhanced sense of confidence, control, and assertiveness self- efficacy, but not insight and understanding. In contrast, rumination increased justification for avoidance relative to concrete thinking. These findings suggest that rumination does not increase insight relative to other problem- focused thinking, but it may be reinforced by providing evidence that supports inactivity and avoidance.

Table of Contents
  Exposure to threatening situation: Confrontation with assertiveness task.
  Manipulation of processing mode: Abstract rumination / concrete thinking interview.
  Response Styles Questionnaire - Ruminative Response Scale (RSQ-RRS, Nolen-Hoeksema & Morrow,1991).
  Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9, Kroenke, Spitzer, & Williams, 2001).
  Sense of understanding and insight.
  Sense of confidence and control.
  Assertiveness self-efficacy.
  State anxiety.
  Justification for avoidance.
  Interview coding of abstract / concreteness.
  Importance of understanding and insight.
  Ratings of the assertiveness issue.
 Preliminary Analyses
 Interview Manipulation Check
 Main Analyses
  Post-threat analyses.
  Post-manipulation analyses.
  Relationship with trait rumination.
  Relationship with current depression symptoms.

Correspondence to
Rosemary Kingston, Psychology, College of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Exeter, Washington Singer Building, Perry Road, Exeter, EX4 4QG, UK.

Rumination; Depression; Cognitive Processes, Metacognitive Beliefs; Avoidance

Received 23 Aug 2013; Revised 11 Mar 2014; Accepted 12 Mar 2014; In Press 21 Nov 2014

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