The relationship between rumination and metacognition : application of an innovative signal-detection approach

  • Chak Man TANG

Student thesis: PhD Thesis (Lingnan)


Rumination, a stable vulnerability marker of depression, is associated with lack of affective bias towards positive information due to cognitive control deficit. However, whether ruminators are self-aware remains unknown. Based on the signal-detection approach, the present study examined metacognition associated with rumination. Specifically, metacognitive sensitivity, the extent to which one’s confidence tracks task performance, was measured using the meta-d’ method. In three directed-forgetting memory experiments, the present research examined whether trait rumination (Experiment 1) and interaction between trait rumination and mood state (Experiments 2 and 3) influenced metacognitive sensitivity. Participants were asked to either forget or remember some affective pictures (i.e., pictures with negative or positive valence). They then performed an old-new discrimination task and indicated confidence rating for their responses. In Experiment 1, an interaction between Valence and Rumination was found: High ruminators’ meta-d’ level decreased significantly when attending to positive-valence images. In Experiments 2, participants performed a similar memory task following either sad- or neutral-mood induction. An interaction among Valence, Rumination, and Mood was observed: During sad mood, high ruminators’ meta-d’ level for processing positive-valence images became significantly lower relative to low ruminators. In Experiment 3, participants’ memory task was preceded by either a rumination- or distraction-focused task. Similarly, an interaction among Valence, Rumination, and Task indicated lower meta-d’ level when high ruminators attended to positive-valence images after rumination task. These findings suggest that trait rumination and sad mood state are associated with metacognitive processing deficits in positive information. Clinical implications are discussed.
Date of Award14 Sept 2021
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Lingnan University
SupervisorChuen Yee LO (Supervisor) & Alan Lap Fai LEE (Co-supervisor)

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