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From distinct research traditions rumination and overgeneral autobiographical memory retrieval (OGM) have emerged as two vulnerability markers for depression and depressive relapse (Nolen-Hoeksema, 2004; Williams, 2004). Recent research further suggests a causal relation between rumination and OGM (e.g., Watkins & Teasdale, 2001). The present study investigated the inverse relationship, that is, OGM causally influencing ruminative thinking. A scrambled sentences procedure was used to assess the extent to which 112 student participants were engaged in a mental mode consistent with ruminative thinking following either a specific or overgeneral memory retrieval style manipulation. Trait rumination was also assessed prior to the experimental retrieval manipulation, using a self-report scale. It was found that high ruminators, following an overgeneral (as compared to a specific) retrieval style, unscrambled sentences relatively more into sentences with a ruminative meaning. In non or low ruminators this retrieval style manipulation had no such effect. Alongside the findings of Watkins and colleagues (e.g., Watkins & Teasdale, 2001), the present results are consistent with the view of rumination and OGM as two mutually reinforcing vulnerability factors for depression (Williams, 1996, 2004).

Original publication




Conference paper

Publication Date





131 - 141