Co-Rumination in the Workplace: Adjustment Trade-offs for Men and Women Who Engage in Excessive Discussions of Workplace Problems


Purpose: Developmental psychology research finds that when children and adolescents engage in excessive discussion of problems with friends, a phenomenon termed “co-rumination,” they experience trade-offs between negative adjustment outcomes (e.g., depression), but better friendship quality. This study examines the possibility that adults in the workplace engage in co-rumination about workplace problems, and that co-rumination, gender, and the presence of abusive supervision influence both positive and negative individual outcomes.

Design/Methodology: A sample of 147 adults ranging in age and occupation completed a questionnaire assessing co-rumination, abusive supervision, and workplace outcomes.

Findings: Results suggested that women engage in more co-rumination than men, and that abusive supervision exacerbates its negative effects for women. In contrast, for men experiencing high abusive supervision, co-rumination was associated with reduced negative effects. However, under low abusive supervision, co-rumination had no significant effect on any outcome variable for women, but was related to negative outcomes for men.

Implications: This study suggests that co-rumination is useful for understanding different types of social support in workplace contexts, and in particular, how men and women might differ in social support seeking. Co-rumination might prove useful for reconciling the somewhat mixed results regarding social support in helping individuals cope with workplace problems.

Originality/Value: This study is the first to examine co-rumination in working adults. It provides insight into how the interaction among co-rumination, gender, and exposure to stress (e.g., abusive supervision) influence both positive and negative individual outcomes.



Document Type





Co-rumination, abusive supervision, social support, workplace adjustment, emotional adjustment

Publication Date


Journal Title

Journal of Business and Psychology