Countering rumination in everyday life: an investigation of daily self-distancing, distraction, and concrete analysis in a ruminative population
University of Delaware
Rumination has been consistently associated with the development and maintenance of a variety of psychological disorders, most notably Major Depressive Disorder. While recent applied and experimental research has investigated a number of different strategies to counter rumination and its negative effects, few studies have directly compared these strategies, and even fewer have investigated their efficacy outside of a clinical or laboratory context. The current study uses a daily diary methodology to compare the efficacy of four such strategies in the everyday lives of a sample of college students high on trait rumination. Over the course of 10 days, participants were asked to apply one of four perspectives to their thoughts and emotions from the most stressful event of the day: Immersed (a ruminative perspective), distanced, a concrete and specific perspective, or distraction. Distraction was associated with the most change in negative mood, followed by distancing and then by concrete/specific analysis, which differed from immersion on only one measure. Only the distanced perspective was associated with less unproductive, ruminative processing (although this was a trend). Distancing was also associated with less blaming of others than immersed analysis. The implications of these findings for the prevention of rumination in treatment and in everyday life are discussed.