Some good news about rumination: Task-focused thinking after failure facilitates performance improvement

Natalie J. Ciarocco, Kathleen D. Vohs, Roy F. Baumeister

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations

Abstract

Is there an adaptive side to rumination? We tested whether rumination that is focused on correcting past mistakes and active goal achievement could produce positive outcomes; this is in contrast to rumination that focuses on the implications of failure (i.e., state rumination) and task-irrelevant rumination. in all studies, participants received failure feedback on an initial task. a second task similar to the first provided an opportunity for improvement. Studies 1 and 2 manipulated type of ruminative thought such that it was action-focused, state-focused, or task-irrelevant. action-focused rumination led to performance improvement relative to the other two conditions. experiment 3 allowed participants to ruminate naturalistically. the more that participants' rumination contained action-focused thoughts, the more their performance improved. hence, rumination can yield benefits if it focuses on correcting errors and goal attainment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1057-1073
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Social and Clinical Psychology
Volume29
Issue number10
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 2010

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