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Title: Cognitive and mnemonic characteristics of episodic future thinking
Author: Cole, Scott Nicholas
Awarding Body: University of Leeds
Current Institution: University of Leeds
Date of Award: 2012
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Imagining one's future is a ubiquitous and important aspect of mental life. In recent years, research into episodic future thinking has been one of the most rapidly expanding topics in psychology. This thesis took a multimethod approach to explore its cognitive and mnemonic characteristics. In Study 1, an internet-based study was conducted investigating subjective characteristics of autobiographical past and future events. It was found that temporal distance had parallel effects on the emotional intensity and importance of past and future events. In terms of differences, past events had more subjective detail and future events were more emotionally positive. In Study 2, the Internal (episodic) and External (000- episodic) details of past and future events were objectively measured using the Levine et al (2002) coding technique. To distinguish episodic future thinking from imagination in general, an imagined past event condition was included. Remembering was associated with greater sensory-perceptual detail than imagining (past and future) events. In Study 3, no relation was evident between episodic and non-episodic detail within past and future events and trial duration did not affect event specificity (past and future events). Study 4 explored the memory and future-thinking of an individual with amnesia following vascular dementia. This case study replicated previous studies of amnesics who are unable to imagine the future. Study 5 and 6 explored possible subprocesses underlying episodic future thinking, with some evidence for a role of executive function in the production of episodic future events. Finally, age-related differences in Internal and External detail of future thinking were observed, in addition to differences amongst finer-grained event properties. In sum, the range of approaches and methodologies adopted in these studies allowed exploration of a broad range of empirical and theoretical issues. The results documented here led to novel questions which open new avenues of research.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available