The role of rumination, attentional biases and stress in psychological distress

  • Morrison R
  • O'Connor R
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This experimental study examines the relationship between rumination and attentional bias. Additionally, the study aims to determine, within a diathesis-stress framework, whether rumination or attentional bias (or both) can prospectively predict psychological distress. Eighty-one participants completed selected measures of rumination and psychological distress at time one, in addition to experimental manipulations of rumination and mood, and measures of mood and attentional bias at time two. Seventy-three participants (90% follow-up) completed final measures of stress and psychological distress approximately 3 weeks later. In combination with negative mood, inducing rumination decreased positive attentional bias, whilst inducing distraction increased positive attentional bias. Rumination and stress interacted to predict change in psychological distress. Negative attentional bias showed a trend towards interacting with rumination and stress to predict dysphoria. The findings supported the proposed diathesis-stress models. In addition, a causal relationship between rumination and positive attentional bias has been empirically established for the first time.

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