An Exploration of Repetitive Negative Thinking, Executive Functions and Depressive Symptoms
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
Research is increasingly attempting to understand the developmental nature of depressive symptomology and its links with executive functioning (EF), repetitive negative thinking (RNT) and stress (e.g., Snyder & Hankin, 2016). Prospective studies are needed to explore the potential mechanisms underlying these associations. This study investigated whether EFs can predict changes in RNT, stress and depressive symptoms during a period of stress. One hundred and two undergraduates completed questionnaires measuring life events, trait and state RNT, depressive and anxious symptoms as well as behavioural EF tasks of cognitive switching and inhibitory control at baseline (Time 1). Follow-up questionnaires of RNT, stress, depression and anxiety were gathered approximately two months later (Time 2), during students’ formal examinations, a period of naturally elevated stress. Findings indicated no association between EF and RNT, depression or anxiety but found that the interaction between high levels of trait RNT and low levels of EF (switching) at baseline was a significant predictor of change in state RNT under stress. Findings are discussed in light of current research attempting to unpick associations between EF, RNT and depression in young adults.
Doctor of Clinical Psychology