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The relationship between depressive symptoms and positive emotional anticipation of goal achievement

Anderson, Rachel J. ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-9191-0004, Clayton McClure, Jack Helgi, Boland, Jennifer ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-8717-0437, Howe, David ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-8618-5776, Riggs, Kevin J. ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-4294-9738 and Dewhurst, Stephen A. ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-5834-0049 (2023) The relationship between depressive symptoms and positive emotional anticipation of goal achievement. Journal of Experimental Psychopathology, 14 (1).

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Depression is associated with difficulties in goal pursuit which could be related to deficits in emotional anticipation regarding goal success. Therefore, the reported study investigated emotional anticipation for personal goals and whether this differs as a function of depressive symptoms. After listing approach and avoidance goals, 263 participants made predictions about these goals (e.g. likelihood of achievement and controllability) and rated the vividness and perspective with which they envisaged goal achievement. They also provided ratings of either anticipated (predicted emotions that would accompany goal success) or anticipatory (in-the-moment emotions when imagining goal success) positive emotions. Higher levels of depressive symptomatology were associated with pessimistic predictions about goal achievement, coupled with reduced vividness and greater adoption of observer perspective when envisaging achievement. Furthermore, those experiencing higher levels of depressive symptoms evidenced biases in both anticipated and anticipatory positive emotions associated with goal success. They believed that goal achievement would bring them lower levels of positive emotion and also reported less in-the-moment happiness, satisfaction, and pleasure when thinking about achieving their goals. Irrespective of depressive symptom level, anticipated emotions were generally stronger than anticipatory emotions. These findings have implications both for research on future-oriented emotions (anticipated and anticipatory) and for the development of therapeutic techniques to aid depression.

Item Type: Article
Status: Published
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/20438087231164963
School/Department: School of Education, Language and Psychology
URI: https://ray.yorksj.ac.uk/id/eprint/7735

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