The effect of rumination and distraction on auditory hallucinatory experiences: An analogue experimental study

Amanda Anderson, Samantha Hartley, Anthony Morrison, Sandra Bucci

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Background and objectives: The cognitive model of voices suggests that negative appraisals of hallucinatory experiences result in responses, such as rumination, which maintain voice-hearing. Our principal aim was to investigate
the effect of rumination on the frequency of voice-hearing.

Methods: A two-group randomised experimental design was employed using a non-clinical sample. A total of 106 participants completed baseline measures of trait rumination, hallucination-proneness, mood and state negative
affect, and were presented with a voice-hearing paradigm. False feedback designed to cause a negative interpretation of auditory intrusions was provided and participants were randomly allocated to either a distraction or
rumination condition. Participants performed the auditory task for a second time, and the total number of false alarms and distress scores were compared between groups.

Results: A Mann-Whitney U test revealed that the manipulation of rumination was successful (p = 0.007). We did not detect a statistically significant difference between the distraction and rumination groups for total false alarms (p = 0.282) or distress (p = 0.387) scores.

Limitations: Findings largely relate to a female undergraduate psychology sample.

Conclusion: Results of this non-clinical study do not support the hypothesis that rumination leads to an increase in the frequency of voice-hearing on a laboratory task.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry
Early online date30 May 2020
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2020


  • psychosis
  • rumination
  • voices
  • auditory hallucinations


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