The Gender Difference Between Rumination and Reflection

Topics: Major depressive disorder, Gender, Gender role Pages: 17 (2629 words) Published: March 9, 2011
Gender difference between Rumination and Reflection


This study examined the gender differences between rumination and reflection. Undergraduate

psychology students (251 women with the mean age 22.08 and 94 men with the mean age 22.64)

were each given a questionnaire to fill out as part of their course requirement. The aim of the

study was to examine if there were differences in coping styles between men and women. The

hypothesis women would use rumination more as a coping strategy and that men would use

reflection more often. The results supported the hypothesis that women tend to use rumination

more so than men. Contrary to expectations that men would use reflection more it was concluded

that there was no mean differences between men and women on the reflection scale.

The prevalence of rumination in both men and women have been an important predictor for

extended periods of depression (Nolen-Hoeksema and Jackson 2001). According to 'Strass,

Muday, McNall, and Wong, (1987, 1990, 1997 as cited in Nolen-Hoeksema & Jackson, 2001 )' it

would appear that women suffer from a major depressive episode at approximately twice the rate

of men. An explanation offered by 'Strass et al.,( 1987, 1990, 1997 as cited in Nolen-Hoeksema &

Jackson, 2001)', is that men will more often use distraction ( eg. Reflection) on average than

women, although according to studies conducted by Nolen-Hoeksema and Jackson, women tend to

use rumination more often.

Response Style Theory ( RST) propose that women are more prone to rumination when in a

depressed mood, and that men will more often use reflection in response to their depressed moods

(Nolen-Hoeksema, Larson & Greyson 1999). It has been proposed by 'Kuehner & Webber., (1987,

1990,1991 as cited in Nolen-Hoeksema et al., 1999)' that RST has two main emotion focused

coping strategies; rumination, which can be defined by having repetitive thoughts such as,

“nothing ever goes my way,” “this will never end”, and having thoughts as to how awful their life

is. They also focus inwardly on their depressive symptoms ( McBride & Bagby 2007) and also

may feel that their emotions may affect their work (Nolen-Hoeksema & Jackson 2001).

Reflection focuses on thoughts and actions that can constructively help overcome

depressive symptoms, such as problem solving thoughts or focusing on something other

than the problem at hand, individuals may also choose to do something active, such as playing

an enjoyable sport ect (McBride & Bagby).


Butler and Nolen-Hoeksema (1994) conducted an investigation on the gender differences in

depressed moods of college students. It was hypothesised by Butler and Nolen-Hoeksema that

women would have a more self-focused ruminative style when in a depressed mood, which would

lead to women having a longer lasting depression. Butler and Nolen-Hoeksema also predicted

that women would choose emotion focused coping tasks in their study when in a depressed mood

more so than men. As hypothesised by Butler and Nolen-Hoeksems (1994), women choose more

of an emotion-focused coping style when in a depressed mood, with (92%) of women and (46%)

of men choosing emotion-focused coping. Butler and Nolen-Hoeksema also concluded that

women were more prone to a longer lasting depressed mood through the self-focused ruminative

style that women engaged in.

Other research conducted by Thayer, Rossy, Ruiz-Padial and Johnsen (2003) has also reported

that women experienced greater symptoms of depression opposed to men. 'Thayer et al, (2003)

decided to replicate studies from past findings to show that women report greater depressive

symptoms and tend to focus more attention to emotions as opposed to men. Their study...
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