The effect of rumination on recall of emotional words: comparison of dysphoric individuals with and without a history of nonsuicidal self-injury

  • Konrad Bresin (Contributor)
  • Kristen Mccowan (Contributor)
  • Edelyn Verona (Contributor)



Prior research and theory has suggested that rumination plays a role in nonsuicidal self-injury (NSSI), and rumination increases recall of negative autobiographical information in dysphoric individuals. Across two studies, we investigated whether rumination (versus distraction) differentially influences the recall of emotional words among dysphoric persons with and without a history of NSSI. Participants encoded unpleasant, neutral, and pleasant words and then were randomly assigned to either focus on the meaning and consequences of their emotions (i.e. rumination) or unrelated thoughts (i.e. distraction) before they were asked to recall encoded words. Across the two studies, we did not find a significant effect of rumination on memory for emotional words among dysphoric people with (Studies 1 and 2) or without a history of NSSI (Study 1). We did find that people were more likely to remember neutral words as opposed to unpleasant or pleasant words across studies, regardless of rumination condition. Together, results from these two well-powered studies provide fairly compelling evidence that rumination after encoding has little to no effect on recall for emotional words in people elevated on symptoms of depression or with NSSI history. These findings can be used to refine theories of rumination and NSSI.
Date made availableNov 17 2019
Publisherfigshare Academic Research System

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