Adaptive and Maladaptive Rumination: Differential Effects of Abstract and Concrete Construal of Body Image-Related Events
Description Degree awarded: M.A. Psychology. American University The current study examines the effect of different cognitive processing styles (abstract or concrete rumination and distraction) on self-satisfaction and affect. A sample of 150 female participants recalled personal experiences that triggered negative body image. Participants either distracted themselves from thinking about the experience or wrote about it for an extended time period in an abstract/evaluative or concrete/objective manner. Participants completed baseline and post-manipulation measures of state body image dissatisfaction, affect, physical appearance anxiety, and self-esteem. The hypothesis, developed from findings in previous research on dysphoric mood (Watkins, Moberly, & Moulds, 2008; Watkins & Moulds, 2005), was that abstract construal of negative body image-related experiences would result in greater body image dissatisfaction, physical appearance anxiety, and negative affect, and lower self-esteem than concrete rumination and distraction. Results revealed that abstract construal contributed to the greatest increase in body image dissatisfaction and the greatest reduction in appearance-related self-esteem and positive affect. Unlike abstract construal and distraction, concrete construal resulted in no significant change in body image dissatisfaction from pre-manipulation to post-manipulation. Distraction resulted in the greatest increase in fatigue. Previous research has provided a narrow conceptualization of rumination as maladaptive. The results of this study provide support for broader conceptualization of rumination as both maladaptive and adaptive, dependent upon outcomes across psychopathological domains.
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