The Impact of Ruminative Processing on the Development of Intrusive Memories

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Abstract
Despite substantial evidence of the detrimental effects of ruminative self-focus, paradoxically (as noted and reviewed by Watkins, 2004) there are clear suggestions that under some circumstances self-focused attention can actually promote well-being and confer benefits. We sought to replicate the findings of Watkins (2004) that adopting an abstract/analytical mode of processing following a negative event results in increased spontaneous intrusions of the event; i.e., results in poor emotional processing. In the current study 57 low (BDI-II ≤ 7) and 59 high (BDI-II ≥ 12) dysphoric undergraduate participants viewed a 4 min. emotion-eliciting video, were randomly assigned to an analytical, experiential, or distraction processing condition, then monitored the frequency of video-related intrusions. Results indicated the effectiveness of the video in inducing moderately distressing intrusions, and suggest that the hypothesized effects of ruminative self-focus on intrusion severity may be dependent upon the self-referential nature of the material to be processed. Results did support previous findings (Williams & Moulds, 2007) that intrusion-related distress is not merely a function of intrusion frequency. Directions for future investigations of the cognitive processes that are important in the maintenance of depressive disorders are discussed.
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Williams, Alishia
Moulds, Michelle
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Publication Year
2007
Resource Type
Journal Article
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UNSW Faculty