New research suggests that keeping away from tendency to brood even for a small amount of time will help you to increase problem-solving ability.
To understand how rumination affects problem solving, researchers asked 51 study participants to watch a short movie clip. The movie clip was designed to make viewers sad. Afterwards they were given tests to check their problem solving abilities. Researchers found that people who were able to distract themselves did better at the tests.
Poor problem solving skills especially those that involve personal relationships make people vulnerable to being depressed.
A study published in Cambridge Journals reports that depressed people who were prone to rumination reported poorer mood and were bad at problem-solving. The researchers say that rumination must be addressed in people who are depressed to make the intervention program more successful.
Another study, that tested how rumination and distraction affected people and their mood, reported that people with depression tend to be in poorer mood after ruminating while non-depressed people have no mood changes post-rumination. Also, distraction (like reading description of an object or place) makes people less depressed.
According to the present study, a person might be able to generate better solutions for a problem by distracting himself/herself from negative thoughts.
"Regardless of whether participants further engaged in distraction or rumination, those who responded to the negative mood induction with immediate distraction generated more effective solutions to interpersonal problems compared to participants who responded to the negative mood induction with immediate rumination," the authors write in the article titled 'Is Timing Everything? Sequential Effects of Rumination and Distraction on Interpersonal Problem Solving,' in the June issue of the journal Cognitive Therapy and Research, University of Maine news release said.
Thinking about neutral thoughts instead of negative ones even for small period of time might make a person better at problem-solving.
"Rumination had no detrimental effects on problem solving (even) if the person initially engaged in distraction. An initial period of distraction, thus, seems to protect individuals from the detrimental effects of rumination on problem solving," the study authors said in the new release.