Focused-distraction (FD), which aims to interrupt negative thoughts, is a major coping strategy for depressive moods, but it may also function as maladaptive avoidance and prevent acknowledging problems. This study compared the effects of FD and dividing-attention distraction (DD), a strategy to think about a negative past event while engaging in distraction, on mood and thoughts about the event. Sixty-five students (undergraduates and graduates) ruminated about negative past events, followed by an 8-minute DD, FD, or no-task session, and then a 5-minute rest. After one week, students ruminated again. Participants’ moods and evaluations of negative events were measured after the initial rumination, task session, rest, and the second rumination. The FD group showed lower anxiety than other groups after each task but FD group participants with high-rumination levels showed higher tenseness than the no-task group after the second rumination. The rate of DD participants who reported non-negative thoughts after one week was higher than the FD group. These findings suggest that one’s attentional state while using distraction affects mood and attitude with respect to a negative memory.
- Emotion regulation
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