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The relationship between rumination, dysphoria and self-referent thinking: some preliminary findings

Obonsawin, Marc and Smallwood, J. and Baracaia, S. and Reid, H. and O'Connor, R. and Heim, D. (2002) The relationship between rumination, dysphoria and self-referent thinking: some preliminary findings. Imagination, Cognition and Personality Consciousness in Theory - Research - Clinical Practice, 22 (4). pp. 317-342. ISSN 0276-2366

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Abstract

Rumination has recently been conceptualized as 'behaviors and thoughts that focus one's attention on one's depressive symptoms and on the implication of these symptoms' [1, p. 569). In this article, we describe current theoretical formulations about how a ruminative processing style interacts with a dysphoric mood to yield high levels of self-relevant thinking. In the subsequent sections, we describe three experiments, the results of which broadly support a combination of two themes described in the literature: (i) that rumination, in the absence of dysphoria, seems to be associated with high levels of task focus, consistent with the attentional inflexibility hypothesis; and (ii) that we can distinguish between the effects of rumination and dysphoria in terms of their contributions to the content of a self-referential thinking. In particular, dysphoria seems to be associated with higher levels of pre-occupation with one's concerns while rumination, particularly in the presence of a dysphoric mood, seems to be associated with a pre-occupation with one's own performance: a finding consistent with the mood as input hypothesis for rumination. The theoretical implications for these findings are discussed, and we outline two important issues for future research to tackle.