Cognitive Therapy and Research

, Volume 24, Issue 6, pp 699–711 | Cite as

Cognitive Inflexibility Among Ruminators and Nonruminators

  • Robert N. Davis
  • Susan Nolen-Hoeksema


Dysphoric people who ruminate about their negative mood experience longer and more intense depressive episodes, yet often persist in ruminating. This study investigated whether a ruminative coping style would be related to a cognitive style marked by perseveration and inflexibility. We examined the performance of ruminators and nonruminators on the Wisconsin Card Sorting Test (WCST), a measure of cognitive flexibility, and tasks measuring related cognitive processes. Ruminators committed significantly more perseverative errors and failed to maintain set significantly more often than nonruminators on the WCST. On an advanced section of the WCST designed for this study, male ruminators exhibited significantly greater inflexibility than male nonruminators. These effects could not be attributed to differences in general intelligence or the presence of depressed mood. Results suggest that rumination may be characterized by, and perhaps prolonged by, an inflexible cognitive style.

rumination cognitive inflexibility personality gender 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert N. Davis
    • 1
  • Susan Nolen-Hoeksema
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of MichiganAnn Arbor
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyUniversity of MichiganAnn Arbor

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