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Title: Re-examining rumination : an investigation into the relative contributions of reflective and brooding ruminative processes to problem solving
Author: Birch, Yan Kristian
ISNI:       0000 0004 6425 2274
Awarding Body: Durham University
Current Institution: Durham University
Date of Award: 2017
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Rumination has classically been associated with depressive symptoms and is often used as a clinical indicator for depression; however, a re-evaluation has recently suggested rumination may comprise of two sub-components: adaptive reflection, and maladaptive brooding. A separate line of enquiry has used evolutionary thinking to suggest that rumination is an adaptive process which facilitates problem solving. To date, there is little in the way of empirical support for these claims, nor have there been investigations into how the reflection/brooding dichotomy may fit into the adaptive framework. Moreover, no comment has been made with regard to the mechanisms through which rumination may influence problem solving. Four experiments sought to address these issues and better understand rumination in non-clinical populations. The results from study one indicate that reflection and brooding are both associated with improved problem solving in social-type and risk-reward problem solving, but not in abstract problem solving. In study two, reflective rumination was found to be positively associated with working memory capacity, whereas brooding and analytical ruminations were associated with slowed responses in a Posner attention task and stop signal reaction time task respectively. Study three explored the novel observation that brooding was useful in risk-reward scenarios, with results indicating that the availability of risk information did not moderate the effects of brooding. Finally, study four explores whether differences exist between trait and state rumination and if these differences may account for inconsistencies between studies. From these results, it is clear that rumination can no longer be treated as a unitary construct. More critically, the notion of brooding as a maladaptive force must be reconsidered by the wider literature, and it is advised that future research consider the relative balance between reflection and brooding in their samples.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available