Objective: Although worry and rumination are everyday phenomena as well as common symptoms across numerous psychopathological disorders, the theoretical and clinical delineations of both concepts need more clarification. This study explored the degree of overlap between worry and rumination on the levels of standardized questionnaires and a priori lay concepts.
Method: The subjective conceptualization of worry and of rumination of 221 undergraduate and graduate students was assessed with the semantic differential technique, together with the frequency and intensity with which they experienced worry and rumination (based on their lay concepts). Standardized self-report measures for worry, rumination, depression, and anxiety were also administered.
Results: Worry was viewed as more negative than rumination and was more predictive of anxiety as well as of depression than rumination, especially when the assessment was based on the subjective lay concepts. The different measures of worry and rumination were only moderately correlated with each other.
Conclusion: It is concluded that the lay concepts worry and rumination and the hypothetical constructs worry and rumination should not be confused in personality and clinical research.