Repetitive Negative Thought and Executive Dysfunction: An Interactive Pathway to Emotional Distress

Nicholas Madian, Keith Bredemeier, Wendy Heller, Gregory A. Miller, Stacie L. Warren

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Repetitive negative thought (RNT) is a transdiagnostic process that predicts the onset, severity, and recurrence of several psychiatric disorders, including anxiety and depression. Despite progress in understanding the affective consequences of RNT, the mechanisms through which RNT contributes to clinical symptoms are not well understood. Executive function (EF), a set of cognitive processes that contributes to the organization of cognition and the regulation of emotion, was hypothesized to enhance the effect of RNT on negative affect (NA), a core symptom shared by anxiety and depression. The present study used latent variable modeling and hierarchical linear regression to test the contributions of RNT, EF, and their interactions to NA. Consistent with hypotheses, high levels of RNT were associated with higher NA, and EF deficits enhanced this association. Results provide evidence that the RNT-EF interaction represents a pathway in the development of NA, and by association, anxiety and depression.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)464-480
Number of pages17
JournalCognitive Therapy and Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1 2019


  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Executive function
  • Repetitive negative thought

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology


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