Original Article

Cognitive Therapy and Research

, Volume 37, Issue 4, pp 713-724

First online:

Why are Depressive Individuals Indecisive? Different Modes of Rumination Account for Indecision in Non-clinical Depression

  • Raffaella Di SchienaAffiliated withFaculty of Psychology, Université Catholique de Louvain Email author 
  • , Olivier LuminetAffiliated withFaculty of Psychology, Université Catholique de LouvainNational Fund for Scientific Research (FRS-FNRS)
  • , Betty ChangAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, University of Sheffield
  • , Pierre PhilippotAffiliated withFaculty of Psychology, Université Catholique de Louvain

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Individuals with depressive symptoms tend to adopt an abstract-analytical (A-A) rather than a concrete-experiential (C-E) mode of rumination. A large body of evidence shows that this leads to many deficits that are associated with depression (Watkins in Psychol Bull 134:163–206, 2008). In two studies, the present research examined whether indecision in a non-clinical population could also result from the mode of rumination adopted. In the first study, 174 participants completed measures of depressive symptoms, rumination, decision-making styles and indecision. The results of this study showed that indecision and one dysfunctional decision-making style (hyper-vigilance) significantly correlated with A-A rumination, even when controlling for depression. In a second study, 71 participants with mild to severe depressive symptoms (MSDs) and 49 participants with no to minimal depressive symptoms were trained to adopt either an A-A or a C-E rumination mode, and subsequently requested to make 10 choices. Consistent with the results of the first study, the results of the second study showed that participants in the A-A condition took longer to make their choice compared to participants in the C-E condition, irrespective of their level of depression. Moreover, the group of participants with MSDs experienced slightly more difficulty in decision making when they were in the A-A mode than in the C-E mode. This suggests that the A-A rumination mode could be an antecedent of indecision, whereas the C-E mode predicts its reduction. These interpretations are in line with the idea that A-A rumination is maladaptive and C-E rumination is adaptive.


Rumination Modes of rumination Indecision Depression