The Influence of an Abstract vs. Concrete Thinking Style on Thinking in Verbal Thoughts, Imagery, State Repetitive Negative Thinking, and Resilience
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Research suggests that repetitive negative thinking (RNT) is characterized by abstract thinking (AT) which predominantly involves verbal thoughts in order to avoid more emotional imagery. As opposed to AT, concrete thinking (CT) appears to be more constructive in terms of long-term beneficial effects. Whereas RNT is considered a risk factor for various disorders, resilience appears to be a protective factor. In the current study, the effects of AT vs. CT on verbal thoughts, imagery, state RNT and resilience were examined by means of a training in either AT or CT and a subsequent stress induction. Based on previous research, it was hypothesized that the participants in the AT-condition would report more verbal thoughts, less imagery, more state RNT, and less resilience compared to the participants in the CT-condition. Although randomization succeeded, it is questionable whether manipulation was successful. Therefore, the results should be interpreted with great caution. Results of ANCOVAs showed only a significant effect of condition on verbal thoughts after the stress induction subsequent to the training, with a higher score in the AT-condition than in the CT-condition, as expected. No effects of condition were found on imagery, state RNT, and resilience. These unexpected results are mainly due to the shortened format of the training, which showed not to be effective in inducing AT and CT. Further research is necessary in order to clarify the effects of thinking styles on verbal thoughts, imagery, state RNT, and resilience (using the full training format) in nonclinical samples from a prevention perspective.