To understand cognitive bases of self-reported ruminative tendencies, we examined interpretations and subsequent memories of ambiguous situations depicting opportunities for rumination. In Experiment 1, we recruited students, randomly assigned them to a distracting or ruminative concentration task, and then measured their latencies to complete fragments that resolved situational ambiguity in either a ruminative or a benign direction. Students in the ruminative task condition who previously self-identified as brooders were quicker to complete ruminative fragments. In Experiment 2, we simulated this bias to investigate its possible contribution to rumination; nonbrooding students were trained to make ruminative or benign resolutions of ambiguous situations. Ruminative training led to more negative continuations of new, potentially ruminative situations in a subsequent transfer task. Next, ruminative training also caused more negatively valenced errors in recalling the ambiguous transfer situations. Finally, after reflection about a personal experience, state-rumination scores were higher in the ruminative condition. These results establish the causal role of interpretation biases in ruminative patterns of thought.
Document Object Identifier (DOI)
Hertel, P. T., Mor, N., Ferrari, C., Hunt, O., & Agrawal, N. (2014). Looking on the dark side: Rumination and cognitive bias modification. Clinical Psychological Science. 2(6), 714-726.
Clinical Psychological Science