Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1946/30558
Objective: Cognitive reactivity and rumination are established vulnerability factors for depression that have been found to be associated with a history of childhood trauma and abuse. Furthermore, childhood abuse is an established risk factor for depression. However, it is not known whether the relationship with the vulnerability factors is different depending on the type of abuse experienced; emotional, physical or sexual. The first aim of the study was to replicate previous studies and examine the relationship between the cognitive vulnerabilities and childhood abuse. Other aims were to examine whether this relationship is different based on type of abuse, and if the relationship between the vulnerability factors is different based on the type of abuse experienced.
Method: The sample consisted of 115 university students that completed a number of self-report measures, including on childhood trauma, rumination and cognitive reactivity, and two experimental tasks.
Results: Those with a history of childhood abuse reported significantly greater cognitive reactivity but not rumination, when measured with self-report. No significant group differences (trauma history and no trauma history) were found when cognitive reactivity and rumination were measured with experimental tasks. Only childhood sexual abuse appeared to be related to the brooding subtype of rumination and cognitive reactivity. A history of either sexual or physical abuse affected the relationship between brooding and cognitive reactivity. No significant results were found for emotional abuse.
Conclusions: The results indicate that having a history of childhood abuse makes one show greater cognitive reactivity compared with those with no such history. Only sexual abuse appears to increase cognitive reactivity and ruminative brooding tendencies. Furthermore, ruminative brooding seems to increase cognitive reactivity for those who have experienced either sexual or physical abuse. The experimental tasks appeared not to measure the cognitive vulnerabilities reliably. However, this is a rather small university sample which questions the generalizability of the results.
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