Journal of Adult Development

, Volume 26, Issue 4, pp 266–274 | Cite as

Using Mental Imagery to Manipulate the Future Time Perspective of Young Adults: Effects on Attentional Bias in Relation to Depressive Tendencies

  • Terumi TanakaEmail author


Socioemotional selectivity theory postulates that a person with an expansive future time perspective adopts positive and negative information equally to prepare for future events, whereas a person with a limited future time perspective favors selecting positive over negative information, which suggests an information processing bias. Therefore, the present study was conducted to examine both whether future mental imagery can affect future time perspectives and whether attentional biases can be observed under manipulated future time perspective conditions. To control for depressive tendencies, which was assumed to affect the examination of attentional bias, 24 college students with high depressive tendencies [6 men, 18 women; mean age 18.46 years, standard deviation (SD) = 0.66] and 22 with low depressive tendencies (7 men, 15 women; mean age = 18.73 years, SD = 1.12) were recruited as participants and instructed to generate mental imagery about the long-term (short-term) future in order to achieve a limited (expansive) future time perspective condition. Attentional bias was then examined using an exogenous cueing task with long cue presentations. The effectiveness of the manipulation method used in this study was confirmed, and the results of the effects on attentional biases were analyzed. A significant difference in the difficulty of attentional disengagement from negative stimuli was observed among the participants with high depressive tendencies under the expansive future time perspective condition.


Mental imagery Future time perspective Attentional bias Depressive tendency Undergraduate students 



This work was supported by the author’s study support center and JSPS KAKENHI Grant Number 15K04150.


  1. Carstensen, L. L., & Fredrickson, B. L. (1998). Influence of HIV status and age on cognitive representations of others. Health Psychology, 17, 494–503. Scholar
  2. Carstensen, L. L., Isaacowitz, D. M., & Charles, S. T. (1999). Taking time seriously: A theory of socioemotional selectivity. American Psychologist, 54, 165–181. Scholar
  3. Carstensen, L. L., & Lang, F. R. (1996). Future orientation scale. Unpublished manuscript, Stanford University.Google Scholar
  4. Carstensen, L. L., & Mikels, J. A. (2005). At the intersection of emotion and cognition: Aging and the positivity effect. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 14, 117–121. Scholar
  5. Charles, S. T., Mather, M., & Carstensen, L. L. (2003). Aging and emotional memory: The forgettable nature of negative images for older adults. Journal of Experimental Psychology-General, 132, 310–324. Scholar
  6. Demeyer, I., & De Raedt, R. (2014). The effect of future time perspective manipulation on affect and attentional bias. Cognitive Therapy Research, 38, 302–312. Scholar
  7. Denis, M. (1985). Visual imagery and use of mental practice in the development of motor skills. Canadian Journal of Applied Sports Science, 10, 4–16. Scholar
  8. Fukuda, K., & Kobayashi, S. (1973). A study on a self-rating depression scale. Psychiatria et Neurologia Japonica, 75, 673–679.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. Fung, H. H., Lai, P., & Ng, R. (2001). Age differences in social preferences among Taiwanese and mainland Chinese: The role of perceived time. Psychology and Aging, 16, 351–356. Scholar
  10. Holmes, E. A., Mathews, A., Dalgleish, T., & Mackintosh, B. (2006). Positive interpretation training: Effects of mental imagery versus verbal training on positive mood. Behavior Therapy, 37, 237–247. Scholar
  11. Ikeuchi, T., & Osada, H. (2013). Development of Japanese version of Future Time Perspective Scale. Journal of Gerontological Research, 4, 1–9.Google Scholar
  12. Isaacowitz, D. M., Allard, E. S., Murphy, N. A., & Schlangel, M. (2009). The time course of age-related preferences toward positive and negative stimuli. Journals of Gerontology, 64, 188–192. Scholar
  13. Isaacowitz, D. M., Wadlinger, H. A., Goren, D., & Wilson, H. R. (2006). Is there an age-related positivity effect in visual attention? A comparison of two methodologies. Emotion, 6, 511–516. Scholar
  14. Koster, E. H. W., De Raedt, R., Goeleven, E., Franck, E., & Crombez, G. (2005). Mood-congruent attentional bias in dysphoria: Maintained attention to and impaired disengagement from negative information. Emotion, 5, 446–455. Scholar
  15. Leyman, L., De Raedt, R., Schacht, R., & Koster, E. H. W. (2007). Attentional biases for angry faces in unipolar depression. Psychological Medicine, 37, 393–402. Scholar
  16. Mather, M., & Carstensen, L. L. (2003). Aging and attentional biases for emotional faces. Psychological Science, 14, 409–415. Scholar
  17. Mikels, J. A., Larkin, G. R., Reuter-Lorenz, P. A., & Carstensen, L. L. (2005). Divergent trajectories in the aging mind: Changes in working memory for affective versus visual information with age. Psychology and Aging, 20, 542–553. Scholar
  18. Murphy, N. A., & Isaacowitz, D. M. (2008). Preferences for emotional information in older and younger adults: A metaanalysis of memory and attention tasks. Psychology and Aging, 23, 263–286. Scholar
  19. Posner, M. I., & Cohen, Y. (1984). Components of visual orienting. In H. Bouma & D. Bouwhuis (Eds.), Attention and performance (Vol. X, pp. 531–556). Hove: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Ltd.Google Scholar
  20. Scheibe, S., & Carstensen, L. L. (2010). Emotional aging: Recent findings and future trends. Journal of Gerontology, 65, 135–144. Scholar
  21. Steinmetz, K. R. M., Muscatell, K. A., & Kensinger, E. A. (2010). The effect of valence on young and older adults’ attention in a rapid serial visual presentation task. Psychology and Aging, 25, 239–245. Scholar
  22. Yamaguchi, M., Oda, M., Ogawa, T., & Akamatsu, S. (2001). Psychological judgment on composed facial expressions by PCA. Institute of Electronics, Information, and Communication Engineers, J84-A(2), 229–237.Google Scholar
  23. Zung, W. W. (1965). A self-rating depression scale. Archives of General Psychiatry, 12, 63–70. Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of PsychologyRissho UniversityTokyoJapan

Personalised recommendations