The Effect of Reflective Processing versus Rumination on
The Effect of Reflective Processing versus Rumination on Emotional Responses to Sad Memories: Influence of Pre-existing
Depressive Symptoms and Ruminative Tendencies
Tristen Hastings & Wendy Wolfe
Tendencies toward ruminative thought processes are oftentimes found to occur
in conjunction with recurrent depressive symptoms. Due to dysphoric mood, these
thought processes are characterized by a negative bias that intensifies depressive
symptoms. This self-defeating cycle is common in depression and suggests a need
for therapeutic techniques designed to provide alternative coping responses for
depression, other than rumination. Consequently, there is need for a treatment
technique that affords the patient the opportunity for constructive, reflective
processing while minimizing problematic rumination.
In 2005, a therapeutic technique based on the benefits of reflective processing
was introduced with regard to aggression by Kross, Ayduk, and Mischel. They
postulated that when attempting to work through negative emotions, highly reactive,
emotional individuals tend to review autobiographical memories from an
immersed perspective; whereas, calm, analytical individuals tend to review
autobiographical memories from a distanced perspective. They formulated a
technique designed to teach individuals to adopt a distanced perspective as opposed
to an immersed perspective when reflecting upon anger-eliciting memories. Results
indicated that participants in the distanced condition exhibited significantly less
anger than participants in the immersed condition.
The purpose of the present study was to investigate the efficacy of this
technique on emotions commonly associated with depression as well as the
influence pre-existing depressive symptoms and ruminative tendencies have upon
ones ability to maintain the distanced perspective. We hypothesized individuals in
the distanced condition would exhibit significantly less sadness than participants in
the immersed condition. In addition, we hypothesized participants with pre-existing
depressive symptoms and/or ruminative tendencies would exhibit more difficulty
maintaining the distanced perspective than other participants.
The current study recruited 114 Armstrong Atlantic State University
undergraduate students enrolled in introductory psychology courses. Participants
were randomly assigned into either the distanced-why or immersed-why
conditions. Each condition contained 57 participants and were equivalent in terms of
sex, age, race and depressive symptomatology. However, a post-hoc t-test revealed
that participants assigned to the distanced-why (M = 43.4) group had higher scores
on a measure of ruminative tendencies than participants assigned to the immersedwhy (M = 41) group, t(112) = 2.03, p < .05.
Participants in the immersed condition were prompted to visualize the
memory as if it was reoccurring and to focus on the reasons behind the emotions
they experienced; whereas, participants in the distanced condition were
prompted to visualize the memory as if they were watching it occur from a
bystanders perspective and to focus on the reasons behind the emotions of the
distant them. Participants were then asked to write a brief description of the
memory and complete measures for implicit and explicit sadness, as well as
depression and rumination.
Implicit sadness was measured utilizing a word completion task in which
seven out of twenty-five items could be completed by using either a sad or a
neutral word. Explicit sadness was measured utilizing the PANAS; however,
sadness was added as an additional item in the measure. The BDI-II was used
as a measure for depression, and the Scott-McIntosh Rumination Inventory (i.e.,
SMRI) was utilized as a measure for rumination.
Participants were instructed to retrieve a memory of an interpersonal
experience that elicited feelings of intense sadness and regret from either an
immersed or distanced perspective.
High SM RI
For further information, contact the first author undergraduate, Tristen
Hastings at [email protected]
Low SM RI
Rum ination Scores
History of Psychotherapy
The memory summaries were scored and separated into concrete
construals and abstract construals based on the number of what statements and
self-blame attributions (i.e., concrete construals) as well as metacognitive
insight statements and metacognitive closure statements (i.e., abstract
construals). A construal index was then calculated from these scores by
subtracting abstract construal scores from concrete construal scores. An
independent samples t test on construal index scores indicated a main effect of
condition, t(111) = -2.86, p < .01. As expected, participants in the immersed
condition (M = 0.71) used more concrete construals compared to abstract
construals in their summaries than participants in the distanced condition (M =
0.24). Next, multivariate tests using the general linear model procedure were
run. Surprisingly, results indicated no main effect of condition on any of the
dependent variables. The GLM did, however, indicate a significant interaction
between condition and SMRI scores on implicit sadness, F(1) = 5.06, p < .05.
The nature of the interaction is depicted in Figure 1.
The GLM also revealed a significant interaction between condition and past
psychotherapy treatment on implicit sadness, F(1) = 6.83, p < .05. The nature of
the interaction is depicted in Figure 2.
The significant difference in construal index scores between conditions
indicates participants were able to maintain the perspective they were instructed to
adopt during the sad memory task. However, our hypothesis that implicit and
explicit sadness scores would differ depending on condition was not supported.
Interestingly, the interaction between rumination scores and condition suggests
that the memory manipulation worked as expected (when it came to implicit
emotional memory), but only for low ruminators. Thus, while results indicated
that, despite ones ruminative tendencies, participants were able to maintain the
assigned perspective, adopting a distanced perspective did not appear to buffer
individuals with ruminative tendencies from experiencing an increase in negative
affect when contemplating a sad memory. Given the role of ruminative tendencies
on the effect of the memory manipulation, a possible explanation for our findings
is the unequal distribution of SMRI scores across the two memory conditions.
It appears that participants with a history of psychotherapy were also
particularly impacted by the immersed condition in terms of higher sad responses
on the implicit task. Perhaps they were accessing sadder memories or perhaps
therapy made them more vulnerable to being overwhelmed by past emotionally
charged events (when immersed back in that memory).
The fact that the analyses revealed no main effects involving the explicit
measure of sadness is puzzling, although it may be an indication that implicit
memory provides a more sensitive measure of mood change.
Poster presented at the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies (ABCT)
42nd Annual Convention, Orlando, FL (11-15-08).
Anne Arundel Co. Worcester Co. Caroline Co. Washington Co. State of Maryland ... (program of Indiana University and partners) Hoosiers communities for a lifetime, Senate Bill No. 277 (last considered in 2012) ... (e.g. healthcare, support services, case management, life...
For bullet a, students showed inconsistent performance on questions that required multiplying fractions and mixed numbers. For bullet b, students had difficulty with single-step and multistep practical problems involving addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division of fractions, particularly when mixed numbers...
Figurative Language Metaphor (=) Simile (%) Allegory (a:b = c:d) Metaphor (=) A metaphor is defined as a direct comparison between two or more seemingly unrelated subjects Example: My old car is a grouchy bear Simile (%) A simile is...
*Judith McFarlane, Jacquelyn C. Campbell, and Kathy Wilson, 2001, "The use of the justice system prior to intimate partner femicide, Criminal Justice Review, 26, 2, Autumn 2001, 193-208. ... Photo by Tony Webster. Intimate partner homicide (IPH) comprises the staple...
Biological Diversity (Biodiversity) (2) Species diversity. The number of species in a region or in a particular type of habitat. Species—a group of organisms that is distinct from other groups in its morphology (body form and structure), behavior, or biochemical...
Try texting the number 517-481-2418 the message @d84g7c DAILY SCIENCE * Which of these super hero powers would you want to have? Fly Super Strength Teleportation Mind Read Shape Shift Please construct a graph using the above class data. Use...
Technically Speaking - It's All About Quality Gee Mom How Did You Get That Artifact? What's It All About? Image Quality As a technologist you are directly responsible for all the technical aspects Patient History Dose preparation/correct radiopharmaceutical Defining the...
Ready to download the document? Go ahead and hit continue!