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Relationship between trait rumination and imbalanced working memory: Analysis at the latent variable and individual task levels

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The relationship between trait rumination and working memory has not been well established. Previous studies have shown that high ruminators have poor working memory in general, while others have shown that they have superior working memory ability. Therefore, we tested the hypothesis that high ruminators have an imbalanced working memory ability, with inferior updating and superior attentional control abilities. A total of 178 graduate and undergraduate students completed three updating tasks: spatial 2-back, running memory, and memory updating; three attentional control tasks: Stroop, Eriksen flanker, and antisaccade; and two short-term memory tasks: dot matrix and digit span. Results of the latent variable analysis did not show any significant relationships between working memory factors, maladaptive brooding, and adaptive reflection. However, we observed imbalanced working memory at the individual task level, and increased reflection associated with superior antisaccade task performance and poor Stroop task performance. These findings suggest that high ruminators have an imbalanced working memory ability across task-specific components inherent in each task, such as oculomotor inhibition. Researchers should investigate the relationships between trait rumination and working memory, especially the aspects of superior ability, in more detail in further studies.

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This work was supported by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (grant number 16 J00786) for first author. This work was performed as part of a doctoral thesis at University of Tsukuba (2018).

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All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were accordance with the ethical standards of the local ethical committee of University of Tsukuba and with the 1964 Helsinki Declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

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Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

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Correspondence to Haruki Nishimura.

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Nishimura, H., Hasegawa, A., Nishiguchi, Y. et al. Relationship between trait rumination and imbalanced working memory: Analysis at the latent variable and individual task levels. Curr Psychol 41, 2896–2907 (2022).

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