Rumination impairs the control of stimulus-induced retrieval of irrelevant information, but not attention, control, or response selection in general

Psychol Res. 2020 Feb;84(1):204-216. doi: 10.1007/s00426-018-0986-7. Epub 2018 Jan 23.


The aim of the study was to throw more light on the relationship between rumination and cognitive-control processes. Seventy-eight adults were assessed with respect to rumination tendencies by means of the LEIDS-r before performing a Stroop task, an event-file task assessing the automatic retrieval of irrelevant information, an attentional set-shifting task, and the Attentional Network Task, which provided scores for alerting, orienting, and executive control functioning. The size of the Stroop effect and irrelevant retrieval in the event-five task were positively correlated with the tendency to ruminate, while all other scores did not correlate with any rumination scale. Controlling for depressive tendencies eliminated the Stroop-related finding (an observation that may account for previous failures to replicate), but not the event-file finding. Taken altogether, our results suggest that rumination does not affect attention, executive control, or response selection in general, but rather selectively impairs the control of stimulus-induced retrieval of irrelevant information.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attention / physiology
  • Executive Function*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Internal-External Control*
  • Male
  • Problem Solving
  • Self Concept*
  • Stroop Test
  • Thinking*
  • Young Adult