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Effects of rumination and distraction on naturally occurring depressed mood

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Mildly-to-moderately depressed and nondepressed subjects were randomly assigned to spend 8 minutes focusing their attention on their current feeling states and personal characteristics (rumination condition) or on descriptions of geographic locations and objects (distraction condition). Depressed subjects in the rumination condition became significantly more depressed, whereas depressed subjects in the distraction condition became significantly less depressed. Rumination and distraction did not affect the moods of nondepressed subjects. These results support the hypothesis that ruminative responses to depressed mood exacerbate and prolong depressed mood. whereas distracting response shorten depressed mood.
... As for rumination, results from self-reports have typically supported the general and frequent use of this strategy as a vulnerability factor for depression (Aldao et al., 2010) which further relates to negative affect (Thomsen, 2006). Results from experimental studies have also provided support for the idea that instructed rumination increases (Donaldson and Lam, 2004;Morrow and Nolen-Hoeksema, 1990;Nolen-Hoeksema and Morrow, 1993) and maintains (Donaldson and Lam, 2004) negative affect. Results from our sensitivity analyses suggest that rumination has a potential causal effect on daily life experiences of negative affect. ...
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Emotion regulation (ER) is a central target in the study of psychological and neurobiological processes of emotions for numerous psychological disorders. Ecological momentary assessments, overcoming retrospective self-reports, allow a better understanding of the relation between the use of ER strategies and daily life affective experiences. A systematic review and meta-analyses of studies testing these relations through experience sampling methods (ESM) and daily diaries were conducted. ESM studies showed significant large effect sizes between negative affect (NA) and rumination, suppression, and worry, and positive affect (PA) and reappraisal; medium effect sizes between NA and rumination, and PA and distraction; and a small effect size between NA and suppression. Daily diary studies showed significant large effect sizes between NA and rumination and suppression; and PA and reappraisal; medium effect sizes between PA and acceptance, and problem-solving; and a small effect size between NA and reappraisal. These findings shed light on the temporal relations between the use of ER strategies and affective experiences and highlight conceptual and methodological limitations in the field.
... 561-562) In turn, some characteristics of rumination that have been highlighted point out that it is rather a style of thoughts than at least exclusively the negative content of them, being signed as repetitive and unproductive while interferes with an active problem-focused coping attitude, or as an excessive, sustained, and inflexible attention to internal states. (Ingram, 1990;Lyubomirsky et al., 2015;Nolen-Hoeksema & Morrow, 1993). Trapnell and Campbell (1999) by its part distinguish between epistemically motivated self-attention that leads to adaptive self-knowledge and neurotically motivated self-attention that is associated with psychological distress. ...
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... No blinding procedures were performed. Those in the distraction group were asked to complete a distraction induction task [26]. To apply the distraction task (which was originally developed in English) to the Japanese population, we conducted a preliminary survey to choose appropriate items from the item pools in the original task, such that they were easy for Japanese participants to imagine. ...
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There are preliminary findings that repetitive thinking on social situations (post-event processing; PEP) is associated with impaired cortisol recovery after experiencing social evaluative stressors. However, no studies have examined the effect of experimental manipulation of PEP on cortisol recovery among socially anxious individuals. The aim of the present study was to examine the effect of distraction on cortisol recovery following a social-evaluative stressor in individuals with subclinical social anxiety symptoms. A total of 40 participants, who scored >30 on the Liebowitz Social Anxiety Scale, completed a standardized stress test (the Trier Social Stress Test; TSST). They were then randomized to complete either a 10-min distraction or PEP induction task. Subjective anxiety and salivary cortisol levels were assessed at −20, −10, 0, +10, +20, +30, +40, and +50 min, with respect to the TSST offset. Contrary to the hypothesis, no difference in cortisol recovery was observed between distraction induction and PEP induction. These findings suggest that short-term distraction induction may not be sufficient to promote cortisol recovery in individuals with elevated social anxiety.
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Recent research on self-focused attention has indicated effects that parallel several cognitive and affective phenomena associated with depression. Specifically, discrepancies between perceived real and ideal self, increased affective response, self-attribution for negative events, and accurate self-reports occur both in depression and as a result of self-focused attention. A study is reported that investigated the relationship between depression and a measure of private self-consciousness, a dispositional measure of the tendency to attend to one''s inner thoughts and feelings. As predicted, a reliable positive relationship was found. The potential role of self-focused attention in maintaining and exacerbating depression was discussed.
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Recent research has indicated that attentional processes may be an important mediator of several depressive phenomena. Specifically, it was hypothesized that depressed individuals demonstrate a tendency to self-focus their attention. Two studies were conducted to examine this relationship. In Study 1, a replication of earlier research demonstrating a relationship between depression and the dispositional tendency to self-focus attention was obtained using three different samples. In Study 2, depressed and nondepressed subjects were compared on a measure of current level of self-focusing. Results indicated that depressed subjects evidenced a greater self-focused responding and less externally focused responding. The possible role of self-focused attention in contributing to the negative affect, negative internal attributions, and lowered self-esteem in depression are discussed, and suggestions for future research are provided.
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The present study investigated the relationship between self-focus of attention and depression, using a naturalistic experiential sampling methodology. Daily ratings of mood and descriptions of daily life events were obtained from 62 subjects over a period of 56 consecutive days. Daily events were rated for severity and coded as referring to a self-focused or external-focused event. Scores on private self-consciousness (PSC) and depression question-naires both correlated significantly with the number of daily events coded as self-focused and negative. Self-focusing to positive life events did not correlate with depression or with PSC. If depression and high PSC individuals do respond with negative mood to internal events, then their daily moods should be more unpredictable from the objective conditions of their daily life. This hypothesis was examined by assessing the linkage between daily moods and objective life events for each subject. Mood-event linkage scores were computed as within-subject correlations between each subject''s daily mood ratings and the raters'' evaluation of the severity of the subject''s life events each day. High PSC individuals showed daily moods that were less linked to the objective conditions of their daily life. Again, this effect held only for negative life events. Results are discussed in terms of attentional biases and the relative importance of self-referential processing of negative rather than positive life events in the maintenance of depression.
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Four experiments were conducted to study the effect of self-focused attention on affective reactions. In addition, the research was also intended to help resolve the controversy over attentional versus arousal explanations of self-awareness research. In Experiment 1, undergraduate men were asked to view and rate slides of nude women in the presence of a mirror or with no mirror. In Experiment 3, subjects were either exposed or not exposed to a mirror and read a set of mood statements which became either increasingly positive or increasingly negative. Experiments 2 and 4 conceptually replicated Experiments 1 and 3 by selecting subjects on the basis of private self-consciousness. In each study, self-focused attention increased the person's responsiveness to his transient affective state. The convergence between mirror-manipulated self-awareness and private self-consciousness was offered as support for an attentional interpretation of the findings. The implications of the research for self-awareness theory are discussed.