Hypothetical future orientated positive imagery reduces feelings of social anxiety in a healthy population

L Oldfield, Jonathon Reay, Christopher Wilson, L. M Riby

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Negative mental imagery has been shown to be involved in the onset and maintenance of numerous clinical disorders and as a result there has been growing scientific study of the therapeutic role of positive mental imagery, with studies reporting favourable results. However, with regard to social anxiety (SA) disorder the conventional approach to induce positive mental imagery has been suggested to be too demanding due to impairment in the retrieval of such episodes. Therefore, researchers have called for controlled studies to explore alternative inducement techniques with specific focus upon future orientated methods (a method more suitable for patients with SA). In the current study, we compare the conventional inducement technique (past) to a future orientated inducement technique (future) and a control condition (no imagery) and measure the impact upon self-reported levels of anxiety in a non-clinical population. Seventy-Eight younger students were randomly allocated to one of the two imagery inducement techniques or the control condition (and completed anxiety scales before and after imagery inducement or control task). To capture situational anxiety, phobia and broader short and long term (state versus trait) dysfunction the Liebowitz Social Anxiety Scale and State-Trait Anxiety Inventory were the chosen measures. Results confirmed that positive mental imagery reduces feelings of anxiety and demonstrated, for the first time, the effectiveness of a hypothetical future orientated technique to induce positive mental imagery. These data will provide the groundwork for intervention development in clinical populations with known difficulties capitalising on past based mental imagery.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)-
JournalResearch in Psychology and Behavioral Sciences
Publication statusPublished - 31 Aug 2016


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