Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository

Thesis Format



Doctor of Philosophy




Dozois, David


Depression and relationship distress are highly related, but the precise nature of this relationship is unclear (Whisman et al., 2021). Rumination is associated with both outcomes (Marroquin & Nolen-Hoeksema, 2015; Nolen-Hoeksema et al., 2008), and further exploration of the construct in an interpersonal context may help elucidate the link between depression and relationship distress. This thesis focuses on the development and validation of a novel measure that assesses the proclivity to ruminate about a romantic partner. Exploratory factor analyses of the Partner Rumination Scale (PRS) yielded a one-factor model that was supported via confirmatory factor analysis, and then cross-validated in an independent sample. The PRS showed excellent internal consistency and test-retest reliability. Evidence of convergent and discriminant validity was demonstrated through correlations with several existing measures of rumination, an index of depressive symptom severity, and numerous instruments that assess relationship-related constructs. Results also supported the incremental validity of the PRS over two existing measures of rumination in a representative sample of individuals with previous depression (IPD). This study is the first to link partner rumination to depression, and the findings support the use of the PRS in both mood and relationship-specific contexts.

Summary for Lay Audience

Rumination, which involves focusing on negative thoughts and emotions in a repetitive and perseverative manner, tends to maintain or worsen negative mood states. Rumination is linked to both depression and relationship difficulties, but the nature of these associations is not well understood. Most measures of rumination assess self-focused thoughts, and there is a need for measures that assess thought content related to interpersonal relationships, such as one’s romantic partner. In four studies, a new measure that assesses rumination about a romantic partner was developed and evaluated: the Partner Rumination Scale (PRS). Another objective was to examine how the PRS relates to depression and relationship functioning. The development of the PRS began with 100 items and, using various statistical techniques, reduced the final scale to 20 items. Statistical analyses (Studies 1-3) indicated that the items on the PRS assess the same broader construct and that scores on the measure are consistent over time. As predicted, the final measure was associated with depressive symptoms, as well as other measures of rumination and relationship quality. These results support the PRS as a reliable and valid measure of partner rumination. A final study examined how the PRS relates to depression and indicators of relationship quality in a sample of individuals with a history of depression. Results showed that the PRS added to our understanding of the links between rumination, depression, and relationship quality over and above other measures of rumination. The use of the PRS in future research and clinical practice is discussed.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License

Available for download on Tuesday, April 01, 2025