Ruminative habits of thought about one's problems and the resulting consequences are correlated with symptoms of depression and cognitive biases (Nolen-Hoeksema, Wisco, & Lyubomirsky, 2008). In our orienting task, brooders and non-brooders concentrated on self-focusing phrases while they were also exposed to neutral target words. On each trial in the unfocused condition, participants saw and then reported the target before concentrating on the phrase; in the focused condition, the target was reported after phrase concentration. A brooding-related deficit on a subsequent unexpected test of free and forced recall was obtained in the unfocused condition only. Brooders recalled more successfully in the focused than in the unfocused condition. Thus, impaired recall of material unrelated to self-concerns may be corrected in situations that constrain attention.

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Cognition and Emotion
Department of Psychology

Hertel, P.T, Benbow, A.A, & Geraerts, E.G. (2012). Brooding deficits in memory: Focusing attention improves subsequent recall. Cognition and Emotion, 26(8), 1516–1525. doi:10.1080/02699931.2012.668852