Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy


Psychology, Clinical-Community

Date of Defense


Graduate Advisor

Ann M. Steffen, Ph.D.


R. Rocco Cottone

Tara Galovski

Brian Vandenberg


Two cognitive variables that are of interest in their role in depression are self-efficacy and rumination. Self-efficacy refers to individuals¿ own appraisal of their ability to successfully accomplish a domain of tasks (Bandura, 1977). Rumination, as defined by Response Styles Theory (Nolen-Hoeksema, 1991), refers to the process of repetitively and passively thinking about negative emotions, consequences, and symptoms of distress. Although the relationship between these two constructs and depression has been examined in both experimental and correlational studies, there has been minimal research on the relationship between self-efficacy and rumination among depressed individuals. The present study was intended to replicate and extend Lyubomirsky et al.¿s (1999) study on rumination and perception of the severity and solvability of self-identified personal problems among college students with and without depressive symptoms. The goal of the study was to add a careful assessment of self-efficacy to the original procedures from Lyubomirsky et al.¿s (1999) study in order to examine the relationship between rumination and self-efficacy in the context of depressive symptoms. Undergraduate students (N = 78) enrolled in a variety of psychology courses were randomly assigned to engage in an experimentally induced rumination or distraction task. Upon completing this manipulation task, participants completed various self-report measures, including measures of self-efficacy and depressive symptoms. Two types of self-efficacy, self-efficacy for controlling upsetting thoughts and problem-solving self-efficacy were assessed. As hypothesized, participants reporting higher levels of depressive symptoms who were instructed to ruminate reported significantly lower levels of self-efficacy than other participants (those reporting higher depressive symptoms instructed to distract, and those not reporting depressive symptoms). Self-efficacy demonstrated a stronger relationship with rumination among participants with higher BDI-II scores in comparison to the original variables from the Lyubomirsky et al. (1999) study (e.g. perception of solvability). Among participants with depressive symptoms, there was a stronger relationship between rumination and self-efficacy for controlling upsetting thoughts in comparison to the relationship between rumination and problem-solving self-efficacy.

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