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Title: Pre-experiencing the future in dysphoria : the role of anticipatory affect
Author: Ranger, Gurveen
ISNI:       0000 0004 8500 3875
Awarding Body: Royal Holloway, University of London
Current Institution: Royal Holloway, University of London
Date of Award: 2018
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'Pre-experiencing' as referred to throughout this document, looks at one aspect of future-directed thinking, that is, the quality of the cognitive representations and associated affect in the here-and-now whilst imagining a future event. It has been proposed that while imagining future events, individuals draw on episodic memory of experience, recombining and elaborating specific details that are re-experiences to simulate possible happenings (Schacter, Addis and Buckner, 2007). If this is the case, then it is possible that people with psychological disturbance may experience differences in pre-experiencing, as they often tend to have more negative beliefs about the self, others and the world, often based on their past experiences. Over-general memory (OGM) symbolises the tendency to retrieve more general past events referring to categories of similar events than specific ones relating to a singular event (Williams et al., 2007), with fewer sensory, time and place details. As our understanding of mental time travel has progressed to include that of future thinking, results have continued to show a consistent finding - that clinical groups, irrespective of the particular psychopathology, show reduced specificity in their future thinking. Numerous studies have looked at the relationship between specificity of future thought in depression and clinical groups with depression, but the results have been mixed. It is relevant to gain clarity of the current evidence base on specificity and depression, which forms the basis of Chapter 1, as reduced ability to form specific mental representations of the future may mean reduced ability and motivation to engage in goal directed behaviour that is often characteristic of people with mood disorders, which may in turn have impact on clinical work with this client group Whilst Chapter 1 aims to systematically review the evidence for reduced specificity of future thought in people with elevated depression, Chapter 2 presents an empirical study also investigating the quality of future thoughts but offers a novel contribution, that is, the emotional reactions to such thoughts about the future. Whilst the quantity of positive and negative future thoughts for people who are depressed has been looked at, as well as substantial literature on how people respond emotionally to events as they occur in depression, there has been little on the emotional response to anticipating such events. There are three views regarding how MDD might alter emotional reactivity as events occur, which may be applied to anticipated events and thus formed the closest parallel to base predictions upon in the present study. The negative potentiation hypothesis proposes that depressed individuals will exhibit potentiated, or heightened, emotional reactivity to negative emotional stimuli. The second hypothesis is positive attenuation, where depressed individuals' low positive mood (as demonstrated in typical symptoms such as anhedonia, fatigue, apathy and behavioural inactivity) is an indicator that they are likely to show attenuated, or reduced, emotional reactivity to positive emotional stimuli. Finally, the third hypothesis is the emotion context insensitivity (ECI) hypothesis, which takes a more global view of emotional reactivity in depression, suggesting that such individuals will exhibit diminished reactivity to all stimuli, regardless of valence.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (D.Clin.Psy.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Pre-experiencing ; Prospection ; Future-directed thinking ; Dysphoria ; Anticipatory Affect