The present studies evaluated whether experiencing depressive cognition as visual (i.e., in the form of visual mental imagery) or verbal (i.e., in the form of verbal thought) was differentially associated with the strength of the rumination–depression relationship. Visual mental imagery is consistently found to be more emotionally arousing than verbal thought. This may especially be the case when individuals dwell on their visual or verbal depressive cognition in the form of depressive rumination. In Study 1, 41.2% of participants reported a visual depressive cognitive style and 57.1% reported a verbal depressive cognitive style. For both males and females, rumination was associated with similarly severe depressive symptoms when individuals reported experiencing visual depressive cognitions compared with verbal depressive cognitions. Study 2 replicated and extended Study 1, taking into account that some individuals may experience depressive cognition both visually and verbally. 23.8% of participants reported a visual depressive cognitive style, 38.9% a verbal depressive cognitive style, and 37.3% a both visual and verbal depressive cognitive style. Rumination was significantly associated with depressive symptom severity for all depressive cognitive styles (visual, verbal, both), though depressive cognitive style significantly moderated the relationship between rumination and depressive symptom severity such that there was a stronger relationship for individuals who had a visual depressive cognitive style than a verbal depressive cognitive style, especially for females. Findings suggest that dwelling on depressed affect (i.e., rumination) may be more strongly related to depressive symptom severity when individuals tend to experience depressive cognitions as visual. Examination of depressive cognition as both visual and verbal is necessary to fully understand how individuals think about their depressed affect and may eventually inform tailoring of interventions based on visual/verbal styles of depressive cognition.
Cognitive Therapy and Research – Springer Journals
Published: Jan 16, 2018
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