Ruminating about depression and selective attention
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Depression is a debilitating mood disorder that has been linked to ruminative thinking. Clinical research has found connections between rumination, depression, and deficits in selective attention, especially for negative emotional material. However, results are inconsistent, especially regarding the role of ruminative thinking. In this context, rumination is usually operationalized as ineffective, intrusive, repetitive thinking about the symptoms, causes, and consequences of depression. However, Brinker and Dozois (2009) proposed that rumination forms a more general construct, independent of depression, but the relationship among this global rumination, depression, and selective attention has received little examination. The current study used a latent variables framework to analyze how emotional and non-emotional selective attention tasks relate to depressive symptoms, as measured by the CESD-R, and to both general rumination and rumination as a coping mechanism for depression. All forms of rumination formed a coherent construct, which could not be isolated from depressive symptoms as measured by the CESDR. Selective attention, regardless of item valence, was predictive of neither rumination nor depressive symptoms in the current study. Additionally, only non-emotional Stroop and the emotional and non-emotional Flanker tasks had acceptably high reliability, while the rest of the included selective attention tasks were quite unreliable.