Document Type

Dissertation

Degree

Ph.D.

Degree Granting Department

Psychology

Major Professor

Ellis Gesten

Co-Major Professor

Vicky Phares

Keywords

anxiety, co-rumination, depression, friendship quality, social coping

Abstract

Co-rumination involves friends spending a great deal of time encouraging each other to excessively discuss problems, with content being largely negative (Rose, 2002). Co-rumination appears to strengthen the bonds between best friends, while ironically exacerbating internalizing symptoms. Co-rumination is conceptualized as a mutual dyadic process, but little is known about the reciprocity of excessive problem discussion. The balance of college students' (N = 601) self- and other-focused co-rumination with their best friend was assessed via an online survey. Contrary to expectations, inconsistent and weak evidence was obtained for differentiating self- and other-focused co-rumination, and their balance. Specifically, self- and other-focused co-rumination were highly correlated, similarly correlated with other study variables, and not differentiated in exploratory factor analysis. However, the interaction of self- and other-focused co-rumination in a model including individual characteristics and adjustment yielded differentiated results. Friendship intimacy was associated with self-, but not other-, focused co-rumination. Indicating that balance may matter, anxiety was associated with high self-focused co-rumination in the context of low other-focused co-rumination. Additionally, mean levels of all individual traits (rumination, excessive reassurance seeking, social perspective taking, perfectionism, negative problem orientation) and adjustment variables (anxiety, depression, social anxiety, friendship quality) differed as a function of co-rumination balance, as assessed by a one-item direct measure. The validity and utility of distinguishing self- and other-focused co-rumination is contingent on further exploration with dyadic data and perhaps modified assessment. Rumination and excessive reassurance seeking indicated vulnerability for co-rumination, which appears to be a primarily anxious process.

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