Encyclopedia of Behavioral Medicine

2013 Edition
| Editors: Marc D. Gellman, J. Rick Turner

Perseverative Cognition

  • J. F. Brosschot
  • Bart Verkuil
  • Julian F. Thayer
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4419-1005-9_823



Perseverative cognition is defined as “the repeated or chronic activation of the cognitive representation of one or more psychological stressors” (Brosschot, Gerin, & Thayer, 2006). Stressful events, or stressors, can make people “linger on” mentally. Humans, unlike animals, can make mental representations of stressors, long before and long after these events occur or are believed to occur. This continued cognitive representation of stressful events, before or after their occurrence, and even regardless of their actual occurrence, is called perseverative cognition. It can take the form of worry, rumination, angry brooding, etc., but also, for example, as mind wandering about negative topics. Perseverative cognition appears to play a causal or sustaining role in several major psychopathologies (anxiety disorders, depression, post-traumatic disorder) (Watkins, 2008) – indeed, worry is the hallmark of...

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

References and Readings

  1. Brosschot, J. F., Gerin, W., & Thayer, J. F. (2006). The perseverative cognition hypothesis: A review of worry, prolonged stress-related physiological activation, and health. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 60, 113–124.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Brosschot, J. F., Verkuil, B., & Thayer, J. F. (2010). Conscious and unconscious perseverative cognition: Is a large part of prolonged physiological activity due to unconscious stress? Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 69(4), 407–416.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Verkuil, B., Brosschot, J. F., Gebhardt, W., & Thayer, J. F. (2010). When worries make you sick: A review of perseverative cognition, the default stress response and somatic health. Journal of Experimental Psychopathology, 1(1), 87–118.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Watkins, E. R. (2008). Constructive and unconstructive repetitive though. Psychological Bulletin, 134(2), 163–206.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. F. Brosschot
    • 1
  • Bart Verkuil
    • 1
  • Julian F. Thayer
    • 2
  1. 1.Clinical, Health and Neuro PsychologyLeiden UniversityLeidenNetherlands
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyThe Ohio State UniversityColumbusUSA