Cognitive inflexibility among ruminators and nonruminators

  • Davis R
  • Nolen-Hoeksema S
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Dysphoric people who ruminate about their negative mood experience longer and more intense depressive episodes, yet often persist in ruminating. This study investigated whether a ruminative coping style would be related to a cognitive style marked by perseveration and inflexibility. The performance of 31 ruminators and 31 nonruminators (all Ss were aged 1825 yrs) on the Wisconsin Card Sorting Test (WCST), a measure of cognitive flexibility, and tasks measuring related cognitive processes was assessed. Ruminators committed significantly more perseverative errors and failed to maintain set significantly more often than nonruminators on the WCST. On an advanced section of the WCST designed for this study, male ruminators exhibited significantly greater inflexibility than male nonruminators. These effects could not be attributed to differences in general intelligence or the presence of depressed mood. Results suggest that rumination may be characterized by, and perhaps prolonged by, an inflexible cognitive style.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Cognitive inflexibility
  • Gender
  • Personality
  • Rumination

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  • Robert N. Davis

  • Susan Nolen-Hoeksema

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