ISSN 2043-8087
Journal of Experimental Psychopathology
 Volume 3, Issue 2, 178-188, 2012
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Greater Positive Affect Change after Mental Imagery than Verbal Thinking in a Student Sample

Sabine Nelis (a), Koen Vanbrabant (a), Emily A. Holmes (b) and Filip Raes (a)
(a) University of Leuven, Belgium
(b) University of Oxford, UK

Volume 3, Issue 2, 2012, Pages 178-188

This study sought to replicate previous work concerning the impact of positive mental imagery on emotion. Previous experimental studies found that imagining positive events was superior to verbally processing the same events in producing positive affect, and further that field rather than observer perspective imagery had a more powerful impact (Holmes, Coughtrey, & Connor, 2008; Holmes, Mathews, Dalgleish, & Mackintosh, 2006). In the current study, 78 students listened to 100 positive events randomly allocated to one of three conditions (between-subjects): imagining them via a field or an observer perspective or listening to the same events while thinking about their verbal meaning. Positive affect was measured before and after the task. Positive affect change was greater after imagery (field and observer) than the verbal condition, replicating previous research. Contrary to predictions, there was no significant difference in affect change between the field and observer conditions. To explain the latter result, we reflect on methodological explanations. In conclusion, there was greater positive affect change after positive mental imagery than positive verbal thinking. If results can be translated from the lab to the clinic then imaging positive situations may help people feel more positive than only discussing them verbally in therapy.

Table of Contents
  Beck Depression Inventory (BDI-II; Beck, Steer, & Brown, 1996).
  State Trait Anxiety Inventory - Trait scale (STAI-T; Spielberger, Gorsuch, Lushene, Vagg, & Jacobs, 1983).
  Spontaneous Use of Imagery Scale (SUIS; Reisberg, Pearson, & Kosslyn, 2003).
  Positive and Negative Affect Schedule (PANAS; Watson, Clark, & Tellegen, 1988).
  Manipulation checks.
  Demand questions.
 Statistical approach
 Baseline measures
 Manipulation check
 Change in positive affect
 Demand questions

Correspondence to
Sabine Nelis, Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences, University of Leuven, Tiensestraat 102 box 3712, B-3000 Leuven, Belgium.

mental imagery, positive affect, vantage point, observer perspective, emotion

Received 24 Feb 2011; Revised 6 Jul 2011; Accepted 16 Sep 2011; In Press 23 Apr 2012

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