The relationship between co-rumination, relationship satisfaction, and emotional distress
Calmes, Christine A.
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Co-rumination is an emerging construct defined as "a repetitive, passive discussion of problems or difficulties in close relationships." Research suggests that co-rumination contributes to both depressed mood and friendship satisfaction. However, past research has largely examined co-rumination at one time point from the perspective of only one individual. The present study explored the impact of co-rumination on both mood and friendship satisfaction over time from the perspective of both members of a friendship dyad. Specifically, we obtained weekly ratings of co-rumination, friendship satisfaction, conflict, and mood from 87 undergraduates and their closest friends over a 7-week period. We examined the relationship between co-rumination and three outcome variables: depression, friendship satisfaction, and conflict, using hierarchical linear modeling (HLM). As hypothesized, co-rumination about the target individual's problems on one week was a significant, positive predictor of friendship satisfaction the following week. Moreover, co-rumination was a positive predictor of depression due to its overlap with theoretically and empirically relevant covariates. Individual social support moderated the relationship between co-rumination and depression, such that co-rumination was a robust positive predictor of depression among individuals who reported lower levels of social support, but not among individuals who reported higher levels of social support. The amount of time that the dyad spent together on a given week moderated the relationship between co-rumination and friendship satisfaction, such that co-rumination was a significant predictor of friendship satisfaction on weeks when the dyad reported spending more time together. Co-rumination was also a significant negative predictor of friendship conflict. On the other hand, co-rumination did not moderate the depression contagion effect or the relationship between Individual 2's depression on one week and Individual 1's depression the following week. Together, these findings support the role of co-rumination in interpersonal outcomes, and suggest that co-rumination may contribute to depressive outcomes among individuals with low levels of social support.