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 Table of Contents  
Year : 2016  |  Volume : 2  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 99-104

Rumination and co-rumination: Factors predicting depression

1 Department of Psychology, Khorasgan (Isfahan) Branch, Islamic Azad University, Isfahan, Iran
2 Department of Psychology, School of Education and Psychology, University of Isfahan, Isfahan, Iran

Date of Web Publication17-Mar-2016

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Mahgol Tavakoli
Department of Psychology, University of Isfahan, Hezarjirib St., Isfahan
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/2395-2296.178865

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Aim: All groups and individuals especially students are supposed to be at risk of getting involved with depressive disorders. The aim of the present study was to investigate the relationship between rumination and co-rumination among students of Isfahan University. Methods: This study benefits from both causal-comparative and descriptive-correlative research methods. The participants were bachelor students of Isfahan University. Using simple random sampling, a sample of 234 students from 10 colleges of Isfahan University was selected. They were evaluated based on three research tools such as the second edition of Beck's depression indicators, response rumination scale, and co-rumination questionnaire. Data were analyzed using Pearson correlation and regression. Results: Results indicated that rumination (P < 0.001) and co.rumination (P = 0.009) had significant and positive relationship with a total score of depression. Furthermore, the correlation of all three rumination subscales and all subscales of co-rumination except for subscale in which “the person in question encourages his friends to discuss problems” had positive and significant relationship with the total score of depression (P > 0.001). On the other hand, results revealed that the projection of students with depression in the case of rumination was significant (P ≤ 0.0001, β =0.390). Conclusions: Findings highlighted the predictive value of rumination in students with depression. In addition, this paper identified the importance of training in friendship communicational skills, talking effectively with friends, right thought, and appropriate adjustments of emotions among students.

Keywords: Co-rumination, depression, friendship, rumination, students

How to cite this article:
Piraman MJ, Tavakoli M, Torkan H. Rumination and co-rumination: Factors predicting depression. Int J Educ Psychol Res 2016;2:99-104

How to cite this URL:
Piraman MJ, Tavakoli M, Torkan H. Rumination and co-rumination: Factors predicting depression. Int J Educ Psychol Res [serial online] 2016 [cited 2020 Oct 30];2:99-104. Available from: https://www.ijeprjournal.org/text.asp?2016/2/2/99/178865

  Introduction Top

A majority of individuals in different communities are unable to manage their emotions. Some of the problems are: Depression, anxiety disorder, personality disorder, and even severe impacts on interpersonal relations.[1] All groups and individuals especially students are at risk of getting involved with depressive disorders. University applicants not only should pass entrance exam, but also after being admitted by the university they should be prepared for university exams. These stresses, therefore, could cause long-term insomnia and have significant effects on their mental health.[2] On the other hand, many of them believe that when they feel sad they should attempt to concentrate on their inners because they think that such an evaluation and concentration could equip them to find solutions for their problems. Thus, they are involved in the process of repetitive thinking which might lead to the persistence of depression.[3],[4]

Historically, cognitive theorists have clarified the role of negative and repetitive thinking in etiology, process, and therapy of depression. These recognitions begin very fast and occur automatically and then typically become a chain of continuous cynical ideas about themselves, the world and future.[5] Beck's depression model introduced cognitive triangle in producing negative thoughts and justified start, development, and maintenance of depressed mood.[6] In his model, recurrence of negative automatic thoughts is one of the main characteristics of anxiety disorder and depression. In an anxiety disorder, these thoughts could be considered as a form of anxiety [7] or obsession.[8] While in depression such thoughts are called rumination.[9]

Nolen-Hoeksema in response style model (1991–1999) defined rumination as thoughts and behaviors which continuously draw individual's attention to his negative feelings and symptoms of distress as well as the nature and implications of the feelings (including implications and consequences of emotions). In this model, rumination is known as individual difference factor.[10],[11] Furthermore, papageorgiou and wells stated that ruminations are thoughts which: (1) Related to events or the nature of depressed mood (2) they are not goal-oriented and do not propose any plan and practice to individuals (3) an individual engaged in rumination is not socially compatible with the environment and attempts to refuse any participation in social activities.[12]

Rumination has long been studied as a solitary thought process. In other words, ruminative thought patterns have been conceptualized as a way of response and formed based on private and personal thoughts occurring in individual's mind. For example, perhaps someone is constantly thinking and reviewing: Why any strategy do I choose is unsuccessful? But sometimes, they might also bring up their concerns as a subject of conversation in the presence of close friends. In other words, as an interpersonal interaction, an individual may continuously ask his friend this question: Why haven't I been successful? In line with these discussions, a new concept called co-rumination has been introduced. This new concept considers rumination from the viewpoint of interpersonal interactions and states that engaging in ruminative processes of thinking with friends and relatives might influence on mood and satisfaction of friendship.[13],[14]

Co-rumination is talking over with a close friend about the problems and personal issues and its symptoms are mutual encouragement to discuss about problems, rehashing problems, thinking about the causes and consequences of them, and finally thinking about negative emotions.[13],[15] Rose pointed out that to have a conversation with a close friend about the problems is followed by a sense of relief. As a matter of fact, due to self-exposure occurring during co-rumination, quality of friendship and intimacy between friends involved in this process is increased. However, since the concentration is on negative issues, co-rumination might be problematic rather than being useful.[15]

On the other hand, co-rumination is similar to rumination because both are internal cognitive processes involving a frequent focus on negative consequences. Furthermore, co-rumination contains rumination processes. There is a significant distinction between two concepts, that is, unlike rumination which is an individual cognitive-emotional process, co-rumination is a social process which includes looking for a person to comfort the person in question. In addition, studies have shown that co-rumination is different from rumination and measures processes separately.[16]

According to above, the aim of the present study was to investigate the relationship between rumination and co-rumination with depression among students of Isfahan University. In the meantime, the variable of co-rumination is a novel concept in the literature of depressive disorder. It is noteworthy to mention that this is the first time that the concept is being investigated in Persian studies. On the other hand, since the rate of depression is high among students of Iran. Thus, it would be essential for researchers to put an effort on investigating the subject.

  Methods Top

This study benefits from both causal-comparative and descriptive-correlative research methods. The study sample included all undergraduate students (male and female) of Isfahan University in the academic year of 2013–2014. Using Cochran's sample size formula, out of 1,000 students, a sample of 250 students was selected. After data collection, due to incomplete filling out the questionnaire, 16 of questionnaires were excluded from the study. Finally, 234 questionnaires were acceptable for data analysis. Out of the total number of participants, 97 were males (41.5) and 137 females (58.5), respectively. Using simple random sampling, the participants were students of 10 colleges of Isfahan University.

The research tools employed in the study are: Beck's depressive questionnaire (second edition); this is a questionnaire with 21 items for measuring the extent of depression among adults and adolescents aged 13-year-old or higher which was conducted by Beck and Steer. The questionnaire also measures physical, behavioral, and cognitive symptoms of depression. The total score of each person in Beck's questionnaire is obtained by the size of the scores in all aspects varying between 0 and 63. Furthermore, studies have shown that Beck's depressive questionnaire is reliable. Beck et al. (1988) reported the internal consistency of the questionnaire ranges from 0.73 to 0.93 and 1-week retest reliability of the questionnaire was 0.93.[17],[18]

Rumination questionnaire: Nolen-Hoeksema and Morrow (1991) conducted self-assessment questionnaire evaluating four different kinds of reaction to negative mood. The questionnaire of response styles was composed of two scales of ruminative response and the scale of response styles questionnaire. Ruminative response scales are composed of 22 items in which the respondents are asked to rate each on a scale from 1 (never) to 4 (very often). The total score is calculated by the sum of all items. The questionnaire is composed of three subscales of distraction, reflection, and brooding. Using Cronbach's alpha, the reliability test ranged from 88.0 to 92.0. Moreover, 5 times measurement of intra-class correlation was r = 0.75.[9]

Co-rumination questionnaire (CRQ): Conducted by Rose and his colleagues in 2002, the questionnaire was with a scale of 27-item evaluating the extent of co-rumination on peer friendship relation. In this study, at first the scale in original language was translated into Persian and thereafter translated back into English. The questionnaire consisted of nine content areas: (1) Talking over problems constantly (2) talking over problems instead of doing other things (3) friends encourage the person in question to explain his problems (4) the person in question encourages his friends to explain problems (5) talking over a problem constantly (6) thinking about the causes of problems (7) thinking about the consequences of problems (8) thinking about dimensions of the problems that have not been understood, and (9) focusing on negative feelings. The test was scored as follow: The scores of subscales are added and the final score for 27 items reflects the overall level of co-rumination. Furthermore, Starr and Davila reported Cronbach's alpha of the questionnaire as 0.95.[19] Cronbach's alpha for this questionnaire was 0.96 indicating the reliability of CRQ. Furthermore, the reliability was calculated for each of nine subscales and the extent of which was 0.70 and 0.84 respectively indicating high reliability of the questionnaire and subscales of CRQ.

In the first step, since co-rumination variable was unavailable in Persian studies, after receiving the questionnaire it was translated into Persian. Thereafter, the text was translated back into English and then it was translated into Persian. Finally, the questionnaire was used after applying changes. Furthermore, content validity of translated questionnaire was confirmed by five professors. In the next step, for data collection, respondents were randomly selected among 10 colleges of Isfahan University. Finally, after scoring the questionnaire, statistical analysis was performed. Data were analyzed using descriptive and inferential statistics and Pearson correlation and regression in SPSS-22 software (IBM Company).

  Results Top

[Table 1] shows the scores of mean and standard deviation of depression, co-rumination, and their subscales. As seen, depression has three subscales, the scores of which are similar. Rumination also has three subscales and subscale score associated with depression is higher than two other subscales. Moreover, mean and standard deviation of the total score of co-rumination as well as its subscale is shown in table depicting that the mean of co-rumination subscales are very close together.
Table 1: Mean and SD of scores of depression, co-rumination, and their subscales

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As seen in [Table 2], rumination and co-rumination had positive and significant relationship with a total score of depression. Moreover, all three subscales of rumination had positive and significant relationship with the total score of depression. Furthermore, all subscales of co-rumination except for subscale in which “person in question encourages his friends to explain problems” had significant and positive relationship with a total score of depression.
Table 2: A summary of the results of Pearson correlation coefficient (the relationship between rumination and co-rumination with depression)

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In the present study, for investigating depression regression based on rumination and co-rumination, linear regression was used. As the results of [Table 3] shows, predicting depression of students based on rumination is significant (F = 45.96) and totally this variable predicts 28.5 percent of depression among students (R2 = 0.285).
Table 3: The results of depression regression based on rumination and co-rumination

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Also based on [Table 4], the impact factor of rumination is significant (β =0.296, P ≤ 0.0001). Therefore, according to these findings rumination predicts depression of students. Using beta coefficients, it could be said that variables affecting depression have the greatest impact on rumination. Regression coefficient of rumination is also positive. Accordingly, it could be claimed that the extent of depression among students increases as the value of this variable increased, and vice versa, the extent of depression decreases as the value of this variable decreased.
Table 4: Regression coefficients of depression based on rumination and co-rumination

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  Conclusions Top

Findings indicated that predicting depression among students based on rumination is significant statistically, and accordingly rumination predicts depression of students. On the other hand, findings of the present study are similar to studies carried out by Yousefi et al. and Moulds et al. Yousefi et al. studied the relationship between positive and negative beliefs of rumination with depression among 120 students of Isfahan University. They came to the conclusion that rumination could predict 54 percent of depression changes. Also in the present study, rumination has had the same impact and according to this study and previous ones we could claim that rumination could predict depression.[6],[20]

According to findings, we could state that with respect to educational, economical and family conditions, interpersonal relations and generally having higher stress than other groups of society [21], and finally lack of skill to deal with these stressors, students become involved in repetitive thought process. They might constantly think that why bad things have happened to them? Or why such an educational problem is there? In these situations, they might not think of their moods or get involved in rumination process. Findings indicated that students are more vulnerable in facing with rumination, and therefore persisting on this style of thought could cause severe mood problems, each of which is focusing on negative emotions. Then, this form of focusing on negative emotions causes lethargic behavior and prolongs negative emotion resulting in rumination.[22]

On the other hand, findings showed that co-rumination is not a predictor of depression. This finding is in contrary with studies carried out by Rose and Stone et al. Rose came to the conclusion that co-rumination predicts depression among girls. According to the results, we could state that regression and overlapping between the variables of rumination and co-rumination is the reason why rumination could predict depression. In addition, co-rumination had no role in predicting depression. It also seems that the concept of rumination is very similar to co-rumination. However, it is necessary to consider cultural variables while studying rumination and co-rumination because in some cultures talking with a friend to solve his problem might be considered as part of everyday life and there might not be a way to get rid of stress except talking with a friend. On the other hand, correlation test indicated that talking over problems with friends, mutual encouragement to talk about problems, talking over problems constantly, thinking about the causes of such problems, focusing on the consequences of them, and finally thinking about negative emotions among students could be associated with the symptoms of depression.[13],[23]

In addition, the results of correlation test showed that rumination had positive and significant relationship with the total score of depression. These findings are similar to studies carried out by Ataie et al.(2014) and papageorgiou and wells. In these studies, rumination has been introduced as one of the thought patterns which has a significant role in reoccurrence and etiology of emotional disorder especially depression. Regarding this, we could state that since rumination is brooding and individual approach which is free from environment interference, it involuntary could influence on students. When being caught in rumination process, attention is frequently diverted from issues and objectives. Sometimes, students with rumination might think that this process leads them to better psychological insight. On the other hand, the negative mood might be the result of tedious rumination.[24],[25]

Furthermore, results showed that the correlation of three subscales of rumination namely, brooding, reflection, and subscale associated with depression are positive and significant with the total score of depression. However, the subscale of brooding showed higher correlation. Brooding represents a passive comparison of the current situation of an individual with unattainable standards.[9] Studies have shown that brooding in long-term and short-term is accompanied by negative depressive outcomes,[26] regarding the results, we could state that brooding among students is along with passive concentration and a cycle of negative emotions like “Why do I have problems that others do not?” This style of thought could prevent them from positive thinking and happy mood.

Findings also showed that co-rumination had positive and significant relationship with total score of depression and all subscales associated with co-rumination except for subscale in which “the person in question encourages his friends to explain problems” had positive and significant relationship with total score of depression (r = 0.17). The result of present study is in conformity with studies carried out by Rose et al. and Stone et al. Rose et al. came to the conclusion that symptoms of depression and co-rumination are significant. Regarding the results, we could say that conversation and talking with peer friends among students are mostly based on each other's problems and conversations are problem-oriented. On the other hand, most of the students tend to talk with their close friends, they are aware of daily activities and current conditions of each other's life and with respect to this issue they are engaged in a conversation. When they are thinking about problems and share, their feelings and disappointments with friends they actually feel relieved, but just after their talks ended, they filled with sadness and anxiety. Days after this conversation, the same content and result is repeated.[23],[27]

Finally, we came to the conclusion that there is a significant relationship between most subscales of rumination and co-rumination with depression. On the other hand, the present study highlighted the role of rumination in predicting depression among students. It also clarifies the role of training and early intervention as a way to prevent students from getting involved in severe problems. Training could concentrate on right thought skills of students to aware them of these issues. Furthermore, monitoring mental health at the beginning of each semester and if necessary, therapeutic intervention could prevent them from being involved with severe problems.

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  References Top

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  [Table 1], [Table 2], [Table 3], [Table 4]

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