Thesis: Emotional Simulation of Alternative Events

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Abstract

Recent research regarding the imagination, or simulation, of future events has found beneficial effects of such imagination on emotion regulation and psychological well-being. While individuals often exhibit a bias towards positive future experiences (i.e., optimism bias), it may be beneficial to keep a flexible outlook on the future by generating different alternative outcomes to expected emotional future events. However, little is currently known about how generating alternative outcomes may affect the detail and memory of these future simulations. The present study aimed to examine individuals’ abilities to generate alternative better or worse outcomes to future events when there existed a prior positive or negative expectation about the outcome in question. This ability was assessed by examining (1) how levels of event detail differed among various alternative outcomes, and (2) how participants subsequently remembered alternative outcome simulations relative to the original events. Overall, there were no differences in levels of event detail between the various alternative event types; however, participants exhibited superior memory for emotion-congruent events (i.e., events with consistent valence between the initial event and alternative outcome) relative to emotion-incongruent events (i.e., events with the opposite valence between the initial event and alternative outcome). Additional analyses were conducted with respect to perceived valence and plausibility, as well as individual differences in optimism and pessimism. Furthermore, we explore some possible mechanisms behind the memory errors and propose a follow-up study to probe further into the source memory for these errors. 

Link to Thesis
 

(Here is a photo of me with my thesis at Widener Library!)

 
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Length:
2 years

Tools:
Qualtrics
Questionnaires
Codebook
Excel
SPSS
Mendeley
Microsoft Office

Skills:
Literature Review
Experimental Design
Qualitative Coding
Quantitative Analysis
APA Style Writing