The impact of rumination on information seeking, depressive symptomology, and protective actions in response to COVID-19




mental health, COVID-19


A lengthy history of research in the crisis communication literature has documented sex differences in information needs and responses. Response Styles Theory is introduced as a potential explanatory mechanism for these findings, which may be attributable to differences in rumination tendency. A representative survey of over 5,000 United States residents explored information seeking and risk perceptions regarding the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. Results support the argument that previously observed sex differences may be accounted for rumination, and rumination is predictive of specific (but not general) risk estimation. Rumination may also drive information seeking and subsequent depressive symptoms, especially among men. The findings are discussed in terms of their implications for risk and crisis communicators, and our consideration of gender norms and their impact on risk message processing.

Author Biographies

Kenneth A. Lachlan, PhD

Department of Communication, University of Connecticut, Storrs, Connecticut

Emily Hutter, PhD

Department of Communication Studies, Northeastern University, Boston, Massachusetts

Christine Gilbert, PhD

School of Communication and Journalism, and School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, New York

Patric R. Spence, PhD

Nicholson School of Communication and Media, University of Central Florida Downtown, Orlando, Florida


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How to Cite

Lachlan, K. A., E. Hutter, C. Gilbert, and P. R. Spence. “The Impact of Rumination on Information Seeking, Depressive Symptomology, and Protective Actions in Response to COVID-19”. Journal of Emergency Management, vol. 21, no. 3, June 2023, pp. 223-32, doi:10.5055/jem.0695.