Rumination, a maladaptive self-reflection, is a risk factor for depression, thought to be maintained by executive control deficits that impair ruminators’ ability to ignore emotional information. The current research examined whether training individuals to exert executive control when exposed to negative stimuli can ease rumination. A total of 85 participants were randomly assigned to one of two training conditions. In the experimental condition activation of executive control was followed predominantly by the presentation of negative pictures, whereas in the control condition it was followed predominantly by neutral pictures. As predicted, participants in the experimental group showed reduced state rumination compared with those in the control group. Furthermore, trait rumination, and particularly its maladaptive subtype brooding, was associated with increased sadness only among participants in the control group, and not in the experimental group. We argue that training individuals to exert executive control when processing negative stimuli can alleviate ruminative thinking and rumination-related sad mood.
- Cognitive bias modification
- Executive control