WHEN MOWRER IS NOT ENOUGH – An operant analysis of rumination

Wadström, O. Beteendeterapeuten, 2013, 1. Pp 12 – 17.

After writing the book “Quit ruminating and brooding: It is easier to do with Cognitive Behavior Therapy” in 2007 (“Sluta älta och grubbla – lättare gjort med KBT”) I realized that the behavior analysis which is the foundation for both the book and its treatment recommendations is not self evident to all CBT therapists. While the book was intended as a simplified guide for the general public I hope that this article will provide a more detailed analysis of rumination.

Read full article here: When Mowrer is not enough Wadstrom 2013


I assume that those who have read the article this far are familiar with the most basic concepts of the psychology of learning and those phenomena which are the foundation of behavior analysis. However I have included here a few references, since I have found that even CBT clinicians sometimes lack the necessary knowledge in operant psychology. Behavior chains and establishing operations are less well known concepts in the psychology of learning that are crucial for the understanding of my analysis of rumination.

Behavior chain

Sulzer-Azaroff, B. & Mayer, G. R (1991): Behavior Analysis for Lasting Change. Wadsworth/Thomson Learning. pp. 338 – 349.

Sundel, M. & Sundel, S. (1999) Behavior Change in the Human Services. SAGE publications. Inc. pp. 89-91.

Establishing operations

Michael, J. (1982): Distinguishing between discriminative and motivational functions of stimuli Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, 37, pp 149-155. 

Sulzer-Azaroff, B. & Mayer, G. R. (1991) Behavior Analysis for Lasting Change. Wadsworth/Thomson Learning. pp 255-256.

Respondent conditioning

Sundel, M. & Sundel, S. (1999) Behavior Change in the Human Services. SAGE publications. Inc. pp 141- 152.

The implications for the treatment (of rumination) are covered in detail in:

Wadström, O. (2015) Quit Ruminating and Brooding –  How Rumination and Worry Work and What to Do to Overcome Them. Psykologinsats, 6th edition, 2018.
ISBN 978 -1-7283-8112-1.  Get your copy of the book here!

The Swedish version can be ordered from by mailing: olle.wadstrom@psykologinsats.se