Rumination and Time Allocation across Tasks
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
Background and Objectives: Rumination may contribute to depression by impairing the most effective allocation of time across activities. An experiment tested the role of rumination in time allocation across tasks. Methods: State rumination was manipulated by cueing an unresolved goal in one condition (32 participants) and cueing a resolved goal in another condition (32 participants). Trait rumination and depressive symptoms were also measured. All participants completed two word generation tasks and allocated a fixed overall time budget between the tasks by interleaving between them. Results: No difference was found in task performance or time allocation following the manipulation of state rumination. Self-reported rumination did not differ between conditions throughout the experimental task. Differences in time allocation behaviour were associated with trait rumination. Limitations: Use of a non-clinical population and tasks that are unrepresentative of everyday problem solving limited the generalisability of the results and may have limited the effect of the state rumination manipulation on task performance. Conclusions: The absence of a difference in self-reported rumination throughout the task suggests that either the word generation task reduced levels of rumination or that the level of rumination induced did not have a large effect on the cognitive processes required to complete the word generation task.