Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Exploring the Relationship between Ruminative Thought and Cognitive Dysfunction: Through the Lens of Attentional Mechanisms and Emotional Content
by Lacour, Alyssa Katherine, M.S., University of Louisiana at Lafayette, 2018, 157; 10980066
Abstract (Summary)

Existing evidence has shown that symptoms of depression, anxiety, stress, ADHD, and low self-esteem are each associated with an inability to successfully complete tasks involving executive function and self-regulation. One hypothesis is that this cognitive dysfunction, often related to set-shifting and inhibition, may be connected to rumination. The purpose of our study was to determine whether the difficulties with attentional tasks that are associated with rumination are primarily due to limitations in resource allocation or to difficulties with processing affective content. We also wanted to explore the potential connections between rumination and other psychopathologies; therefore, participants completed questionnaires related to depression, anxiety, stress, ADHD, low self-esteem, and ruminative tendencies and were categorized for purposes of data analysis as having either high or low symptomatology. Participants were then given one three thought inductions followed by an affective shift task where they were asked to shift between responding to positive and negative stimuli either in the form of emotional nouns or personally-relevant adjectives. The results of six mixed-design ANOVAs for reaction times, errors, and omissions (three associated with responses to emotional nouns and three associated with responses to personally-relevant adjectives) conducted both with and without the between subjects’ variable of psychopathology revealed that the difficulties in set-shifting and inhibition often associated with rumination are likely due to difficulties with processing affective content. Clinical treatments that are likely to be effective for individuals experiencing ruminative thought should encourage mindful processing of such thoughts. By instilling a habitual pattern of thinking that is less self-critical, attentional biases for negative stimuli can become diminished and more task-relevant, positive stimuli can be attended to.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Breaux, Brooke O.
Commitee: McDermott, Michael J., Smith, Karen M.
School: University of Louisiana at Lafayette
Department: Psychology
School Location: United States -- Louisiana
Source: MAI 58/05M(E), Masters Abstracts International
Subjects: Psychology, Cognitive psychology
Keywords: Emotional content, Executive function, Inhibition, Psychopathology, Rumination, Set-shifting
Publication Number: 10980066
ISBN: 978-1-392-04201-4
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