Cognitive Therapy and Research

, Volume 38, Issue 4, pp 389–396 | Cite as

Decentering Mediates the Effect of Ruminative and Experiential Self-Focus on Negative Thinking in Depression

  • Cola S. L. Lo
  • Samuel M. Y. Ho
  • Nicky K. K. Yu
  • Bowie P. Y. Siu
Original Article


Recent research studies found that ruminative self-focus was maladaptive to depression while experiential self-focus was associated with better psychological outcomes. However, the underlying mechanism for the differential effect has been under-investigated. Decentering, representing the capacity to take a present-focus and nonjudgmental stance to observe thoughts and feelings as temporary and objective events in the mind, was hypothesized to be an important construct that accounts for the differential effect of self-focus processing in depression. The present study investigated experimentally the potential mediating effect of decentering on the frequency of negative thinking in groups of depressed patients and dysphoric college students. A total of seventy-five participants were randomly allocated into two experimental conditions, in which the mode of self-focus was manipulated. Two identical sets of questionnaires measuring decentering and negative thinking were administered before and after the experiment. The results supported the differential effect of ruminative and experiential self-focus on decentering and negative thinking, and more importantly, decentering was found to mediate the relationship between the mode of self-focus and negative thinking in depression.


Decentering Mode of self-focus Depression 



We gratefully acknowledge the help of Professor David M. Fresco for allowing us to translate the Experiences Questionnaire into Chinese.

Conflict of Interest

Cola S. L. Lo, Samuel M. Y. Ho, Nicky K. K. Yu, and Bowie P. Y. Siu declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Informed Consent

All procedures followed were in accordance with the ethical standards of the responsible committee on human experimentation (national and institutional). Informed consent was obtained from all individual subjects participating in the study.

Animal Rights

No animal studies were carried out by the authors for this article.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Cola S. L. Lo
    • 1
  • Samuel M. Y. Ho
    • 2
    • 5
  • Nicky K. K. Yu
    • 2
    • 4
  • Bowie P. Y. Siu
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Clinical PsychologyCastle Peak HospitalTuen MunHong Kong
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyThe University of Hong KongPokfulamHong Kong
  3. 3.Department of Applied Social StudiesCity University of Hong KongKowloonHong Kong
  4. 4.Department of Clinical PsychologyKwong Wah HospitalKowloonHong Kong
  5. 5.Department of Applied Social StudiesCity University of Hong KongKowloonHong Kong

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