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16-12-2015 | Uitgave 1/2016

Journal of Rational-Emotive & Cognitive-Behavior Therapy 1/2016

The Role of Metacognition in Self-Critical Rumination: An Investigation in Individuals Presenting with Low Self-Esteem

Journal of Rational-Emotive & Cognitive-Behavior Therapy > Uitgave 1/2016
Daniel C. Kolubinski, Ana V. Nikčević, Jacqueline A. Lawrence, Marcantonio M. Spada


No research, to date, has directly investigated the role of metacognition in self-critical rumination and low self-esteem. The aims of this study are: to investigate the presence of metacognitive beliefs about self-critical rumination; the goal of self-critical rumination and its stop signal; and the degree of detachment from intrusive self-critical thoughts. Ten individuals reporting both a self-acknowledged tendency to judge themselves critically and having low self-esteem were assessed using metacognitive profiling, a semi-structured interview. All participants endorsed both positive and negative metacognitive beliefs about self-critical rumination. Positive metacognitive beliefs concerned the usefulness of self-critical rumination as a means of improving cognitive performance and enhancing motivation. Negative metacognitive beliefs concerned the uncontrollability of self-critical rumination and its negative impact on mood, motivation and perception of self-worth. The primary goal of engaging in self-critical rumination was to achieve a better or clearer understanding of a given trigger situation or to feel more motivated to resolve it. However, only four participants were able to identify when this goal had been achieved, which was if the trigger situation were not to occur again. Participants unanimously stated that they were either unable to detach from their self-critical thoughts or could do so some of the time with varying degrees of success. More often than not, though, self-critical thoughts were viewed as facts, would rarely be seen as distorted or biased, and could take hours or days to dissipate. These findings provide preliminary evidence that specific facets of metacognition play a role in the escalation and perseveration of self-critical rumination.

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