Mental habits: Metacognitive reflection on negative self-thinking

B Verplanken, O Friborg, C E Wang, D Trafimow, K Woolf

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

162 Citations (SciVal)


In 8 studies, the authors investigated negative self-thinking as a mental habit. Mental content (negative self-thoughts) was distinguished from mental process (negative self-thinking habit). The negative self-thinking habit was assessed with a metacognitive instrument (Habit Index of Negative Thinking; HINT) measuring whether negative self-thoughts occur often, are unintended, are initiated without awareness, are difficult to control, and are self-descriptive. Controlling for negative cognitive content, the authors found that negative self-thinking habit was distinct from rumination and mindfulness, predicted explicit as well as implicit low self-esteem (name letter effect), attenuated a positivity bias in the processing of self-relevant stimuli, and predicted anxiety and depressive symptoms 9 months later. The results support the assumption that metacognitive reflection on negative self-thinking as mental habit may play an important role in self-evaluative processes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)526-541
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Personality and Social Psychology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2007


Dive into the research topics of 'Mental habits: Metacognitive reflection on negative self-thinking'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this