What is it about?

Memory tends to be vague in depression, but is *future* thinking also less specific? To find out, we summarised 46 existing studies. It turns out: yes—future thinking tends to be a little bit vague in depressed people (on average). But the really interesting finding was about emotion—future thinking was vague only for positive events, not for neutral or negative events.

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Why is it important?

This is the first large meta-analysis on the specificity of future thinking in depression. It's important because it shows that depressed people don't have a big general impairment in imagination—they just struggle to imagine *positive* futures. Perhaps interventions can use these findings to help people improve the way they use their imagination.


To me, this study contains good news. In contrast to what some prior work suggested, people with depression don't seem to have a major deficit in imagination—rather, they only struggle to imagine the positive. Perhaps, then, imagination can be harnessed in a way that helps people to see a brighter future... We'll have to see what research comes out in the next few years.

Beau Gamble
University of Auckland

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Specificity of Future Thinking in Depression: A Meta-Analysis, Perspectives on Psychological Science, August 2019, SAGE Publications,
DOI: 10.1177/1745691619851784.
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