Can't Quite Commit: Rumination And Uncertainty

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Personality And Social Psychology Bulletin


Why do some individuals persist in self-destructive rumination? Two studies investigated the relation between a ruminative response style and the reluctance to initiate instrumental behavior. In Study 1, ruminators were compared to nonruminators regarding their evaluation of a self-generated plan to revise their university housing system and, in Study 2, concerning their plan to redesign the undergraduate curriculum. In both studies, on relevant composite measures, ruminators expressed less satisfaction and confidence with regard to their plans than did nonruminators. They were also less likely to commit to the plans they generated. The findings suggest that in addition to its documented detrimental effects on thinking and problem solving, self-focused rumination may inhibit instrumental behavior by increasing uncertainty, resulting in further rumination and behavioral paralysis.

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