What is it about?

When we imagine possible future events like winning money or losing belongings, we can both predict our likely emotional reaction (anticipated emotion) and gauge our feelings right now (anticipatory emotion). This paper compares these two forms of future-oriented emotion arising in response to positive and negative vignettes, identifying points of divergence. Specifically, anticipatory (now) emotions appear to be more sensitive to underlying depressive symptoms - with relevance for understanding motivational problems seen in depression.

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Why is it important?

This work synthesises previous research on affective forecasting (i.e., how accurately we anticipate future feelings), emotional anticipation (how we feel while awaiting things), and future thinking in depression and dysphoria. It uses a novel set of vignettes (scenarios) which are plausible and detailed, yet not personalised to the individual. This method creates an even playing field on which to compare anticipated and anticipatory emotions in the context of different influencing factors (e.g., depressive symptoms, momentary mood states, cognitive variables relating to attention, memory, etc.).


This project is of central importance to my emerging research programme as an early-career academic. It fuses areas of interest from my PhD years (future thinking, open science, methodological refinement) with the expertise of my senior co-authors in autobiographical thought and depression/dysphoria. It feels like a nice, 'clean' experiment with great potential for further application of the new method we introduce.

J Helgi Clayton McClure
York St John University

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Differentiating anticipated and anticipatory emotions and their sensitivity to depressive symptoms., Emotion, June 2024, American Psychological Association (APA),
DOI: 10.1037/emo0001371.
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