Reappraisal and Rumination During Recall of a Sad Memory

Research paper by Jessica R. Grisham, Karyn N. Flower, Alishia D. Williams, Michelle L. Moulds

Indexed on: 27 Dec '09Published on: 27 Dec '09Published in: Cognitive therapy and research


Previous research has demonstrated that when dysphoric individuals engage in rumination, compared to distraction, negative affect is maintained. A limitation of this research is that rumination and distraction differ in whether the individual focuses on negative material or something unrelated. Reappraisal is a more adequate comparison condition to rumination because, unlike distraction, it requires individuals to focus on the negative material. In the present study, participants recalled a recent sad event and then were instructed to either reappraise or ruminate about the sad memory. We examined the impact of these strategies using ratings of both positive and negative affect across time. Compared to rumination, reappraisal was associated with more positive affect as well as less negative affect. These findings suggest that the way in which an individual thinks about a sad memory shapes their emotion response.