The Affective Consequences of Mental Time Travel: An investigation of the immediate affective consequences of past and future-oriented thoughts and their regulation via cognitive reappraisal and social regulation strategies
Strycharz, Steven D
The ability to mentally time travel means that people are also subject to the negative affective consequences associated with past and future-oriented thoughts. Across three lines of research, I investigate the immediate affective consequences of past and future-oriented thoughts as well as how they can be regulated through both cognitive and social regulation techniques. In the first set of studies, I demonstrate that busyness is spontaneously construed in terms of its negative features, which undermines well-being. Specifically, this work demonstrates that individuals’ subjective feelings of time (i.e., feelings of time scarcity; perceptions of work-life balance) are predictive of well-being above and beyond the effects of objective time use (i.e., the number of hours worked; objective work-life balance). Moreover, this effect is ubiquitous and unaffected by individual differences in personality traits (i.e., extraversion; neuroticism), demographic factors (i.e., age, gender, income, geographic location, or living environment), or the circumstances in which the feelings are experienced (e.g., work; home; driving). In a second set of studies, I demonstrate that busyness can also be construed in terms of its positive features (i.e., productivity) if people are explicitly prompted to do so. Moreover, this work demonstrates that construing busyness in terms of these positive (vs. negative) features can causally increase well-being. In the last set of studies, I demonstrate that the negative affective consequences elicited by the recall of upsetting memories can be preemptively buffered by the imagined presence of an attachment figure (i.e., mother; partner). Moreover, the present work provides evidence the positivity elicited by the imagined presence of an attachment figure (vs. more specific attachment-related feelings such as comfort and support) are sufficient to drive this buffering effect.
Ferguson, Melissa J.; Gilovich, Thomas D.; Ophir, Alexander G.
Ph. D., Psychology
Doctor of Philosophy
dissertation or thesis