Future-event schemas: Automaticity and rumination in major depression

Susan M. Andersen, Christie Limpert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We examined the proposition that individuals with major depression make predictions about future events relatively automatically and pessimistically, reflecting use of a future-event schema, while they also ruminate about the future. Depressed participants and nondepressed controls indicated whether or not various positive and negative future events would happen to them or to an average other - either under a concurrent attentional load or no such load - while their response latencies were assessed. As hypothesized, depressives showed relatively greater automaticity in their predictions than did nondepressives, and a lack of optimism as well. More specifically, depressives showed a smaller increase in response latency due to the introduction of the attentional load than did nondepressives, suggesting relatively greater processing efficiency, and they also predicted reliably fewer positive events. Indeed, depressives also reported ruminating more about the future based on a recent distressing life event. Overall, the results extend research on future-event schemas and automaticity (Andersen, Spielman, & Bargh, 1992) from moderate to major depression and establish a link with future-event rumination.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)311-333
Number of pages23
JournalCognitive Therapy and Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2001


  • cognition
  • depression
  • rumination
  • schemas

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology


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