Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Marina Bornovalova, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Jonathan Rottenberg, Ph.D.

Committee Member

John Ferron, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Stephen Stark, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Mark Goldman, Ph.D.


bi-factor, negative repetitive thought, psychopathology, transdiagnostic


Criticism of discrete classification systems for mental disorders has led to a focus on identification of mechanisms that cut across symptom clusters, known as transdiagnostic factors. One such proposed factor is negative repetitive thought (NRT), or a perseverative, often uncontrollable, focus on negative information, experiences, or expectations. Worry and rumination are two major constructs thought to compose NRT. No confirmatory factor analyses have investigated whether worry and rumination might compose a general NRT factor, discrete factors, or some combination of the two. The first purpose of the current study was to use confirmatory factor analyses to uncover whether worry and rumination are best characterized as separate or common constructs. In addition to this purpose, the study investigated NRT as a transdiagnostic factor for psychopathology. Finally, it examined incremental associations of NRT with mental illness symptoms, after controlling for negative emotionality, the most well established transdiagnostic risk factor. A bi-factor conceptualization of worry and rumination, in which there was a common NRT factor and specific worry and rumination factors, yielded the best fit to the data across three separate samples. The NRT factor was associated with both internalizing and externalizing psychopathology; however, it demonstrated significant overlap with negative emotionality. Further exploration of this overlap using bi-factor modeling demonstrated that NRT and negative emotionality are likely best thought of as a unidimensional general negative affect construct, and this structure was replicated across samples. Importantly, evidence was found that this tendency to experience negative affect was also a common liability for mental illness symptoms.