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J Pers Soc Psychol. 1990 Mar;58(3):519-27.

Effects of responses to depression on the remediation of depressive affect.

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Department of Psychology, Stanford University, California 94305.


The effects of different types of responses to a depressed mood on the duration and severity of the mood were examined. On the basis of Nolen-Hoeksema's (1987) response styles theory of depression, it was hypothesized that distracting, active responses would be more effective in alleviating a depressed mood than would ruminative, passive responses. A depressed mood was induced in 35 male and 34 female Ss, and subjects were randomly assigned to engage in 1 of 4 types of responses: an active task that distracted them from their mood; a passive, distracting task; an active task designed to lead to ruminations about their mood; or a passive, ruminative task. As predicted, the greatest remediation of depressed mood was found in Ss in the distracting-active response condition, followed in order by the distracting-passive, ruminative-active, and ruminative-passive response conditions. Degree of rumination had a greater impact on remediation of depressive affect than level of activity, with greater rumination leading to lesser remediation of depressive affect. In addition, the effects of the response tasks were limited to depressed mood. The implications of these results for interventions with depressed persons are discussed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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