The role of rumination and positive beliefs about rumination in eating pathology

Alexandra C. Rich, Ann F Haynos, Drew A. Anderson, Lauren E. Ehrlich, Lisa M. Anderson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


PURPOSE: General and eating disorder (ED)-specific ruminations have been identified as key factors that may contribute to eating pathology. Positive beliefs about rumination (e.g., "Ruminating helps me to prevent future mistakes") may impact this association. However, the effect of positive beliefs about rumination on the links between rumination and ED symptom severity has not been investigated. This study sought to clarify relations between rumination and ED symptom severity and to evaluate the potential moderating effect of positive beliefs about rumination on these associations.

METHODS: During a laboratory visit, undergraduate participants (N = 473, M Age  = 18.90 ± 2.27, M BMI  = 23.45 kg/m 2  ± 4.31, 54.8% female) completed an online battery of questionnaires assessing general and ED-specific ruminative processes (e.g., brooding, reflection), positive beliefs about rumination, and global ED symptoms. Hierarchical multiple regression analyses assessed the unique contributions of specific ruminative processes, and the moderating effect of positive beliefs on associations between ruminative processes and ED symptom severity.

RESULTS: Hierarchical multiple regression results suggest that, after controlling for gender and BMI, ED-specific brooding, b = 1.32, SE = 0.13, β = 0.46, p < 0.0001, and reflection, b = 1.44, SE = 0.33, β = 0.19, p < 0.0001, accounted for unique variance in ED symptom severity. Moderation model results indicate that, at low levels of general reflection, b = - 0.06, SE = 0.02, β = - 0.51, p = 0.003, and ED-specific reflection, b = - 0.15, SE = 0.03, β = - 0.59, p < 0.0001, increased positive beliefs about rumination were associated with greater ED symptom severity.

CONCLUSION: Findings suggest ED-specific rumination accounts for ED symptom severity above and beyond general rumination, and that rumination-related expectancies influence the association between reflection and ED symptom severity.

LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: Level III, evidence obtained from a well-designed cohort study.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)979-988
Number of pages10
JournalEating and Weight Disorders
Issue number3
Early online dateJun 7 2021
StatePublished - Apr 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the National Institute of Mental Health of the National Institutes of Health under award numbers T32 MH082761 (L. Anderson), K23 MH123910 (L. Anderson), and K23 MH112867 (Haynos). It was additionally supported by the University of Minnesota Office of Undergraduate Research (Rich), Klarman Family Foundation (Haynos), and Hilda and Preston Davis Foundation (Haynos). This research did not receive any specific grant from funding agencies in the public, commercial, or not-for-profit sectors.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature Switzerland AG.


  • Brooding
  • Eating disorder
  • Expectancies
  • Positive beliefs
  • Reflection
  • Rumination

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article


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