All in the Mind's Eye? Anger Rumination and Reappraisal

Department of Psychology, Stanford University, CA 94305, USA.
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (Impact Factor: 5.08). 02/2008; 94(1):133-45. DOI: 10.1037/0022-3514.94.1.133
Source: PubMed


Research on rumination has demonstrated that compared with distraction, rumination intensifies and prolongs negative emotion. However, rumination and distraction differ both in what one thinks about and how one thinks about it. Do the negative outcomes of rumination result from how people think about negative events or simply that they think about them at all? To address this question, participants in 2 studies recalled a recent anger-provoking event and then thought about it in 1 of 2 ways: by ruminating or by reappraising. The authors examined the impact of these strategies on subsequent ratings of anger experience (Study 1) as well as on perseverative thinking and physiological responding over time (Study 2). Relative to reappraisal, rumination led to greater anger experience, more cognitive perseveration, and greater sympathetic nervous system activation. These findings provide compelling new evidence that how one thinks about an emotional event can shape the emotional response one has.

Download full-text


Available from: Frank H. Wilhelm
  • Source
    • "The instructions for the mindful acceptance condition, adapted from Singer and Dobson (2007), emphasized accepting thoughts and emotions as they are without judging them (acceptance) and included a focused attention experiential exercise (see Appendix A). Instructions for the reappraisal condition were adapted from Grisham et al. (2009) and Ray et al. (2008) (see Appendix B). Participants were trained to reframe the meaning of an emotional event to reduce its emotional impact and engaged in an exercise involving reappraising a hypothetical situation. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: The present study examined the relative effects of mindful acceptance and reappraisal on metacognitive attitudes and beliefs in relation to rumination and negative experiences. A small but growing literature has compared the effects of these strategies on immediate emotional experience but little work has examined the broader, metacognitive impact of these strategies, such as maladaptive beliefs about rumination. One hundred and twenty-nine participants who reported elevated symptoms of depression were randomly assigned to receive brief training in mindful acceptance, reappraisal, or no training prior to undergoing an autobiographical sad mood induction. Participants rated their beliefs in relation to rumination and negative experiences before and after instructions to engage in mood regulation. Results showed that relative to reappraisal or no training, training in mindful acceptance resulted in greater decreases in maladaptive beliefs about rumination. The study suggests that training in mindful acceptance promotes beneficial changes in metacognitive attitudes and beliefs relevant to depression, and contributes to a greater understanding of the mechanisms through which mindfulness-based interventions lead to positive outcomes.
    Full-text · Article · Jan 2016 · Mindfulness
    • "One is that we employed single-item self-report measures of the target emotions in both studies, which allowed us to reduce participant burden over a lengthy procedure . Although multi-item measures are generally preferable, single-item measures have been used successfully in previous work (e.g. Ray et al., 2008; MacNamara et al., 2011). Second, asking participants to repeatedly rate their emotions may introduce expectancy effects. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Admonitions to tell one's story in order to feel better reflect the belief that narrative is an effective emotion regulation tool. The present studies evaluate the effectiveness of narrative for regulating sadness and anger, and provide quantitative comparisons of narrative with distraction, reappraisal, and reexposure. The results for sadness (n = 93) and anger (n = 89) reveal that narrative is effective at down-regulating negative emotions, particularly when narratives place events in the past tense and include positive emotions. The results suggest that if people tell the “right” kind of story about their experiences, narrative reduces emotional distress linked to those experiences.
    No preview · Article · Jan 2016 · Cognition and Emotion
  • Source
    • "On a related note, although behavioral research suggests a significant role for rumination in maintaining angry mood states (Ray et al., 2008), we found no evidence of a significant link between greater levels of currently experienced anger and aMPFC-FPC coupling. Like sadness, it may be that exposure to emotionally charged situations is necessary to trigger the ruminative processing, supported by the DMN, which has been linked to angry mood episodes. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Current evidence suggests that two spatially distinct neuroanatomical networks, the dorsal attention network (DAN) and the default mode network (DMN), support externally and internally oriented cognition, respectively, and are functionally regulated by a third, frontoparietal control network (FPC). Interactions among these networks contribute to normal variations in cognitive functioning and to the aberrant affective profiles present in certain clinical conditions, such as major depression. Nevertheless, their links to non-clinical variations in affective functioning are still poorly understood. To address this issue, we used fMRI to measure the intrinsic functional interactions among these networks in a sample of predominantly younger women (N=162) from the Human Connectome Project. Consistent with the previously documented dichotomous motivational orientations (i.e., withdrawal versus approach) associated with sadness versus anger, we hypothesized that greater sadness would predict greater DMN (rather than DAN) functional dominance, whereas greater anger would predict the opposite. Overall, there was evidence of greater DAN (rather than DMN) functional dominance, but this pattern was modulated by current experience of specific negative emotions, as well as subclinical depressive and anxiety symptoms. Thus, greater levels of currently experienced sadness and subclinical depression independently predicted weaker DAN functional dominance (i.e., weaker DAN-FPC functional connectivity), likely reflecting reduced goal-directed attention towards the external perceptual environment. Complementarily, greater levels of currently experienced anger and subclinical anxiety predicted greater DAN functional dominance (i.e., greater DAN-FPC functional connectivity and, for anxiety only, also weaker DMN-FPC coupling). Our findings suggest that distinct affective states and subclinical mood symptoms have dissociable neural signatures, reflective of the symbiotic relationship between cognitive processes and emotional states. Copyright © 2015. Published by Elsevier Inc.
    Full-text · Article · Aug 2015 · NeuroImage
Show more