Rumination is the process of "compulsively focused attention on the symptoms of one’s distress, and on its possible causes and consequences, as opposed to its solutions" (Nolen-Hoeksema, 1998). This process has been studied by the late Susan Nolen-Hoeksma, who was a professor in psychology at Yale University.

Rumination is related to depression, for which there is also a PsyToolkit questionnaire.

In a study by Nolen-Hoekseman et al. (1999), it was found that rumination scores in women are higher than in men (p. 1064). They measured this in a sample of 1,317 people at two times. In the first interview, the average rumination score for women was 42.01 and for men 39.64. (Homework: download the paper and calculate the effect size Cohen’s D). You can do the demo yourself and see what your score is.

In a manuscript found on the web, Susan Nolen-Hoeksema wrote: "The original Response Styles Questionnaire also included Distraction and Problem-Solving subscales. Neither of these subscales has proven reliable or good predictors of depression change over time, so I am no longer distributing them."

This short rumination scale simply sums the scores.

Run the demo

This score seems to be allowed to be used by researchers, given that the relevant work by Nolen-Hoeksma and colleagues is acknowledged and cited.


This is a very straightforward scale item, all items are just summed.

The survey code for PsyToolkit

Copy and paste this code to your PsyToolkit account if you want to use the scale in your own online research project
scale: frequency
- almost never
- sometimes
- often
- almost always

l: rumination
t: scale frequency
o: random
q: People think and do many different things when they feel depressed. Please read each of the
items below and indicate whether you almost never, sometimes, often, or almost always think or
do each one when you feel down, sad, or depressed.<br><br>
<b>Please indicate what you <i>generally</i> do, not what you think you should do.</b><br><br>
<b>How often do you...</b><br>
- think about how alone you feel
- think “I won’t be able to do my job if I don’t snap out of this”
- think about your feelings of fatigue and achiness
- think about how hard it is to concentrate
- think “What am I doing to deserve this?”
- think about how passive and unmotivated you feel.
- analyze recent events to try to understand why you are depressed
- think about how you don’t seem to feel anything anymore
- think “Why can’t I get going?”
- think “Why do I always react this way?”
- go away by yourself and think about why you feel this way
- write down what you are thinking about and analyze it
- think about a recent situation, wishing it had gone better
- think “I won’t be able to concentrate if I keep feeling this way.”
- think “Why do I have problems other people don’t have?”
- think “Why can’t I handle things better?”
- think about how sad you feel.
- think about all your shortcomings, failings, faults, mistakes
- think about how you don’t feel up to doing anything
- analyze your personality to try to understand why you are depressed
- go someplace alone to think about your feelings
- think about how angry you are with yourself

l: ruminationscore
t: set
- sum $rumination

l: feedback
t: info
q: Your rumination score is {$ruminationscore}.<br>
The scale ranges from 22 to 88 points.<br>
In the Nolen-Hoeksma et al. study of 1999, it was found that women scored on average 42.0 and men 39.6.


  • Nolen-Hoeksema, S. (2000). The role of rumination in depressive disorders and mixed anxiety/depressive Symptoms. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 109, 504–511.

  • Nolen-Hoeksema, S., Larson, J., & Grayson, C. (1999). Explaining the gender difference in depressive symptoms. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 77, 1061–1072.

  • Treynor, W., Gonzalez, R. and Nolen-Hoeksema, S. (2003). Cognitive Therapy and Research, 27, 247-259.