Letting go of unmet goals: Does self-focused rumination impair goal disengagement?

Annette van Randenborgh, Joachim Hüffmeier, Joelle LeMoult, Jutta Joormann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Self-regulation of behavior frequently requires that people disengage from goals that are too difficult to attain. The current studies investigate whether self-focused rumination hinders the execution of this crucial self-regulatory competence. In study one, participants attempted to solve anagrams, some of which were unsolvable, and their predisposition to engage in self-focused rumination was assessed. The tendency to ruminate was associated with getting stuck in the attempt to solve unsolvable anagrams. In study two, ruminative thoughts were manipulated by asking participants to focus on their self, personality, and goals in life, a task frequently employed to induce rumination. Compared to participants undergoing a distraction induction, ruminating participants were more likely to get stuck trying to solve unsolvable anagrams. These results suggest that self-focused rumination hinders disengagement from unattainable goals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)325-332
Number of pages8
JournalMotivation and Emotion
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2010


  • Goal disengagement
  • Goals
  • Rumination
  • Self-regulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Social Psychology


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