Intrusive mentation, rumination, obsession, and worry, referred to by Watkins as "repetitive thought" (RT), are of great interest to psychology. This is partly because every typical adult is subject to "RT". In particular, a critical feature of "RT" is also of transdiagnostic significance—for example obsessive compulsive disorder, insomnia and addictions involve unconstructive "RT". We argue that "RT" cannot be understood in isolation of models of whole minds. Researchers must adopt the designer stance in the tradition of Artificial Intelligence augmented by systematic conceptual analysis. This means developing, exploring and implementing cognitive-affective architectures. Empirical research on "RT" needs to be driven by such theories, and theorizing about "RT" needs to consider such data. We draw attention to H-CogAff theory of mind (motive processing, emotion, etc.) and a class of emotions it posits called perturbance (or tertiary emotions), as a foundation for the research programme we advocate. Briefly, a perturbance is a mental state in which motivators tend to disrupt executive processes. We argue that grief, limerence (the attraction phase of romantic love) and a host of other psychological phenomena involving "RT" should be conceptualized in terms of perturbance and related design-based constructs. We call for new taxonomies of "RT" in terms of information processing architectures such as H-CogAff. We claim general theories of emotion also need to recognize perturbance and other architecture-based aspects of emotion. Meanwhile "cognitive" architectures need to consider requirements of autonomous agency, leading to cognitive affective architectures.
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