Mental imagery in emotion and emotional disorders.
ABSTRACT Mental imagery has been considered relevant to psychopathology due to its supposed special relationship with emotion, although evidence for this assumption has been conspicuously lacking. The present review is divided into four main sections: (1) First, we review evidence that imagery can evoke emotion in at least three ways: a direct influence on emotional systems in the brain that are responsive to sensory signals; overlap between processes involved in mental imagery and perception which can lead to responding "as if" to real emotion-arousing events; and the capacity of images to make contact with memories for emotional episodes in the past. (2) Second, we describe new evidence confirming that imagery does indeed evoke greater emotional responses than verbal representation, although the extent of emotional response depends on the image perspective adopted. (3) Third, a heuristic model is presented that contrasts the generation of language-based representations with imagery and offers an account of their differing effects on emotion, beliefs and behavior. (4) Finally, based on the foregoing review, we discuss the role of imagery in maintaining emotional disorders, and its uses in psychological treatment.
SourceAvailable from: Clare J Rathbone[Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: Higher levels of well-being are associated with longer life expectancies and better physical health. Previous studies suggest that processes involving the self and autobiographical memory are related to well-being, yet these relationships are poorly understood. The present study tested 32 older and 32 younger adults using scales measuring well-being and the affective valence of two types of autobiographical memory: episodic autobiographical memories and semantic self-images. Results showed that valence of semantic self-images, but not episodic autobiographical memories, was highly correlated with well-being, particularly in older adults. In contrast, well-being in older adults was unrelated to performance across a range of standardised memory tasks. These results highlight the role of semantic self-images in well-being, and have implications for the development of therapeutic interventions for well-being in aging. Copyright © 2015 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.Consciousness and Cognition 03/2015; 33:422-431. DOI:10.1016/j.concog.2015.02.017 · 2.31 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Recent research has shown that many prospective thoughts are organised in networks of related events, but the relational dimensions that contribute to the formation of such networks are not fully understood. Here, we investigated the organisational role of emotion by using cues of different valence for eliciting event networks. We found that manipulating the emotional valence of cues influenced the characteristics of events within networks, and that members of a network were more similar to each other on affective components than they were to members of other networks. Furthermore, a substantial proportion of events within networks were part of thematic clusters and cluster membership significantly modulated the impact of represented events on current well-being, in part through an intensification of the emotion felt when thinking about these events. These findings demonstrate that emotion contributes to the organisation of future thoughts in networks that can affect people's well-being.Cognition and Emotion 03/2015; DOI:10.1080/02699931.2015.1015967 · 2.52 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Mental imagery can critically influence our emotional state. In contrast to commonly used explicit measures, implicit measures are promising for objectively assessing automatic emotional processes beyond deliberate control. In two studies with non-clinical samples, we tested the Affect Misattribution Procedure (AMP) to measure implicit affect induced by mental imagery. In a first study (N = 145), the implicit measure showed that mental imagery elicits significantly stronger negative affect than verbally processed stimuli (F(1, 144) = 3.94, p≤.05, ƞ2p = .03). In Study 2 (N = 71), we refined the implicit measure and found that mental images can induce implicit affective reactions at least as strong as pictures. Moreover, implicit affect after positive imagery was negatively related to depressive symptoms (r = -.26, p<.05) and explained incremental variance in depressive symptoms beyond explicitly assessed affect. Our studies suggest that the AMP represents a promising measure of implicit affect induced by mental images.