Research: MEEVISSEN and COLLEAGUES,

Listed in Issue 205

Abstract

MEEVISSEN and COLLEAGUES, Clinical Psychological Science, Maastricht University, P.O. Box 616, 6200 MD Maastricht, The Netherlands. Yvo.Meevissen@maastrichtuniversity.nl  investigated whether optimism can be increased by imagining a best possible self (BPS).

Background

Optimism is a personality trait which has repeatedly been shown to correlate with, and predict psychological and physical well-being. The present study investigated whether optimism can be increased by imagining a best possible self (BPS). Effects were compared to a control group in which participants imagined their daily activities (DA).

Methodology

In order to minimize inter-individual differences in content of imagery, participants constructed their BPS according to 3 domains, namely a personal, relational, and professional domain. All participants were instructed to practice their imagery exercise for 5 min per day over a period of two weeks. Effects on optimism and mood were measured after one session, after one week and after two weeks.

Results

Results indicated that BPS imagery led to significantly larger increases in optimism as compared to DA imagery, after one session and over a two week period. Effects on optimism remained after controlling for possible mediation by the change in positive mood. In order to test the effectiveness of our BPS imagery intervention we relied exclusively on self-report measures.

Conclusion

The present study confirmed that imagining a BPS enhances levels of optimism, independent of the mood effect.

References

Meevissen YM, Peters ML and Alberts HJ. Become more optimistic by imagining a best possible self: effects of a two week intervention. Source Journal of Behavior Therapy & Experimental Psychiatry. 42(3):371-8. Sep 2011.

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