There is substantial evidence that passive, ruminative responses to depression exacerbate and prolong depressed mood, increase depressogenic thinking, and interfere with interpersonal problem-solving. Women are more likely than men to have a ruminative style of responding to their distress, and this partially accounts for women's greater rates of depression compared to men. Clearly, the next question is, why do women engage in ruminative responses to their distress, and how do these ruminative styles of responding develop? This question motivates the research proposed here. Under this Independent Scientist Award, I will test a bio-psycho-social model of the development of ruminative styles that suggests that women are more likely than men to develop beliefs that emotions and their sources are uncontrollable, that they should focus on their emotions, and that they are responsible for the emotional tone of relationships. In turn, these beliefs cause women to focus on their distress and to be wary of taking actions on their environment to address the sources of their distress. The sources of women's beliefs and self-expectations around emotions and coping are both social and biological. First and foremost, women are more likely than men to be exposed to social conditions that strip them of power to act on their environment and cause their attention to be turned inward. Second, women may be more likely than men to have biological experiences of distress that make it more difficult for them to act efficaciously on their environment and more likely that they will emotion focus. To test this model, I will conduct (1) in-depth analyses of existing data sets, and data sets currently being gathered under my current R01 51817, (2) a community-based study of adults, involving a follow-up of a large, representative sample gathered under my current R01, (3) studies of selected subsamples of the adult community, (4) laboratory-based priming studies of adults, and (5) a new longitudinal study of girls and boys from preadolescence to mid-adolescence. In addition, career development goals include the development of studies to examine the relationship between hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal functioning and gender differences in coping and depression; the development of new measures of social context, emotion-related beliefs, and coping strategies; and the development of advanced statistical skills.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
Research Scientist Development Award - Research (K02)
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Social and Group Processes Review Committee (SGP)
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Oliveri, Mary Ellen
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University of Michigan Ann Arbor
Schools of Arts and Sciences
Ann Arbor
United States
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Ward, Andrew; Lyubomirsky, Sonja; Sousa, Lorie et al. (2003) Can't quite commit: rumination and uncertainty. Pers Soc Psychol Bull 29:96-107
Young, E A; Nolen-Hoeksema, S (2001) Effect of ruminations on the saliva cortisol response to a social stressor. Psychoneuroendocrinology 26:319-29