, Volume 19, Issue 1, pp 35-50

Depressive future-thinking: The role of valence and specificity

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Abstract

Two distinctions concerning types of depressive future-thinking were examined: anticipation of positive or negative experiences at a general or a specific level. Mildly depressed (dysphoric) and nondepressed (control) undergraduates estimated the general likelihood of a range of future positive and negative events and were also asked to provide a specific example of each event. Dysphoric subjects showed a greater belief in the likelihood of negative events but did not differ significantly from controls in their likelihood estimates for positive events. Compared with controls, dysphoric subjects were faster to provide specific examples of negative events relative to positive events. Correlational analyses revealed that future-thinking concerning negative events was primarily related to levels of depression whereas future-thinking concerning positive events was primarily related to levels of hopelessness. It is concluded that there are important distinctions to be drawn concerning types of future-thinking and that these distinctions may be differentially related to particular emotional disorders.