Background and Objectives: To explore cognitive factors in ruminative thinking, we assessed the effect of a single-session of inhibition training on subsequent biases in attention and interpretation.
Methods: We randomly assigned participants to either inhibit or attend to negative stimuli. Inhibition was assessed by using assessment trials embedded throughout the training, and interpretation bias was assessed following the training.
Results: Trait rumination moderated training effects on both measures. Low ruminators in the inhibition-training condition maintained their level of inhibition of negative stimuli, but those in the attention-training condition showed a non-significant trend for decreased inhibition. Participants also showed a transfer-congruent tendency in interpretation bias, with reduced bias by those trained to inhibit negative stimuli, compared to those trained to attend to negative stimuli. In contrast, high ruminators in the inhibition training condition showed a training-incongruent decrease in inhibition of negative stimuli, but no change in inhibition when trained to attend to negative stimuli. No effects of the training on interpretation bias were observed among high ruminators. Finally, the training did not affect subsequent measures of mood or state rumination, even when trait rumination scores were taken into account.
Limitations: This study used a single session of inhibition training rather than a multisession training, and this may explain the null effects among high ruminators. Conclusions: Findings highlight the critical role that trait rumination plays in moderating the effect of inhibition training. Our results suggest that inhibition training may provide an effective technique to change inhibition bias and later interpretation bias.