The effect of positive episodic simulation on future event predictions in non-depressed, dysphoric, and depressed individuals
Thesis or dissertation
- © 2017 Jennifer Boland. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written permission of the copyright holder.
Previous research demonstrates that depressed individuals have difficulties with prospection. For example, compared to non-depressed individuals, they predict negative events as more likely to happen, and positive events as less likely to happen, in their future. Recent work suggests that episodic simulation of positive events may prove a useful strategy for improving these prospective biases. The experiments within the current thesis investigated positive episodic simulation as a method of modifying predictions regarding likelihood of occurrence, perceived control, and importance for both positive and negative future events. Experiments 1 and 2 demonstrated the positive impact of a newly devised paradigm, the Future Simulation Intervention Task (F-SIT), on future event predictions in a non-depressed sample. Experiment 3 investigated the parameters under which the F-SIT modifies these predictions, by using various modifications of the paradigm. These findings suggested that both single cue words with positive instructions, and positive cue scenarios were equally effective at modifying future event predictions. Experiments 4 and 5 extended the findings to show that various versions of the F-SIT beneficially modifies predictions in both a depressed and dysphoric sample. Finally, Experiment 5 also made preliminary investigations into the mechanisms that underlie the modifications evident following the F-SIT, specifically investigating the role of affect. Findings suggested that the modification in predictions about future events that occur as a result of the F-SIT are not merely a by-product of mood improvements. Therefore, the underlying mechanisms of the prediction modification is in need of further investigation. However, overall, the findings from the current experiments suggest that training in future episodic simulation can improve future outlook and may represent a useful tool within cognitive therapeutic techniques.
- Department of Psychology, The University of Hull
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