Rumination is a transdiagnostic correlate and risk factor for mental disorders. However, few studies have explored rumination and its components in everyday life, or their associations with other transdiagnostic processes, such as deficits in attention control, which may be an explanatory mechanism or consequence of rumination. Inspired by the Nolen-Hoeksema’s operationalization of rumination, we investigated the associations between five features of rumination and attention control.
We conducted a study relying upon experience sampling methodology: forty participants answered six items four times per day over a two-week period. Using a multilevel vector autoregressive approach, we computed three networks representing temporal, contemporaneous, and between-subjects associations.
The results showed that negativity of thoughts temporally drives all other features of rumination and was the only feature impoverishing attention control over time. Negativity was also the only feature negatively associated with attention control within the same time frame. In contrast, brooding was the only rumination feature to be associated with attention control in the between-subject network (i.e., similar to cross-sectional approach).
These results highlight negativity as a driving force of rumination and as a potent pathway in the interplay between rumination’s features and attention control. Although these results appear inconsistent with the hypothesis that impoverished attention control drives rumination, they fully align with the resource allocation hypothesis that engaging in negative thoughts depletes attentional resources.