Thought Acceleration Boosts Positive Mood Among Individuals with Minimal to Moderate Depressive Symptoms
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Studies have found that accelerated thought speed induces positive mood. Positive mood and thought speed typically are abnormally low for individuals experiencing depression. Two experiments show that the positive mood of individuals with mild to moderate depressive symptoms is boosted by a manipulation accelerating thought speed. Participants read streaming text presented at a controlled rate in order to induce either fast-paced thinking or neutral-paced thinking. In both experiments, individuals with mild to moderate depressive symptoms (based on the Beck Depression Inventory-II) who were led to think fast reported more positive mood than those induced to think at a neutral pace. They also reported more positive mood at post-test relative to pre-test. Individuals with minimal or no depressive symptoms showed similar responses, whereas those with more severe depressive symptoms appeared unaffected. No effects emerged on measures of negative mood or general depressive symptoms. Future studies should investigate potential therapeutic effects of fast thinking in clinical samples and whether repeated inductions of fast thinking produce extended benefits.
KeywordsThought speed Depression Cognitive therapy Fast thinking
This work was supported by funding from the Office of the Dean of the Faculty at Princeton University. Portions of this work were presented at the 2012 meeting of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology (San Diego, CA), and at the 2013 meeting of the Association for Psychological Science (Washington, DC).
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