The Effect of Concrete versus Abstract Processing Mode on Working Memory Capacity in High Rumination

Document Type : Research Paper


1 MSc. Student, Department of Psychology, psychology and Educational Science Faculty, University of Tehran, Tehran, Iran

2 Department of Psychology, psychology and Educational Science Faculty, University of Tehran, Tehran, Iran

3 Department of Educational Psychology and Counseling, psychology and Educational Science Faculty, University of Tehran, Tehran, Iran


The purpose of this study is to investigate the effects of Concrete Processing Mode (CPM) and Abstract Processing Mode (APM) on working memory capacity during high rumination. The research method of this basic study is experimental. The statistical population consists of individuals aged 18-50 years with high rumination living in Tehran who voluntarily participated in the study in January 2021. Among them, 30 individuals (21 women and 9 men) with high rumination were selected using the Ruminative Responses Scale (RRS) and the Beck Depression Inventory-II (BDI-II). Participants were randomly divided into two groups of 15 people each, a concrete group and an abstract group, who were put in a negative mood by watching a sad movie. They then performed the instructions CPM or APM, depending on the group. Participants' working memory was measured with the Reading Span Test (RST) before they watched the movie and after they performed the processing mode instruction. The results of the covariance analysis of the data using SPSS version 26 software showed that the CPM group had significantly higher working memory capacity than the APM group. This meant that the capacity of working memory was affected by the changes in processing mode. This effect was evident on the working memory processing subscale, but the changes on the working memory storage subscale did not differ significantly between groups. Consistent with previous findings, CPM was also considered an adaptive mode in contrast to APM in this study. The results showed that processing mode can predict changes in working memory capacity during severe rumination.


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