Moving onwards: Affective change, mental imagery, and depressive relapse

Research output: ThesisThesis fully internal (DIV)

556 Downloads (Pure)


Moving onwards
Affective change, mental imagery, and depressive relapse

One experiences mental imagery when one has something visual, auditory, olfactory or a physical sensation in mind. In this thesis, experimental studies demonstrate that mental imagery may be used to change emotional experiences. Healthy participants recalled a negative memory and used their imagination to change the image, for example by changing the colors in the memory. The negative emotional impact of subsequent recall was thereby reduced. It remains to be investigated whether such simple techniques also work in (previously) depressed individuals.

The role of mental imagery in daily life has subsequently been investigated. Participants reported several times a day how they felt at that moment, using an app on their smartphone. Moments on which people used more mental imagery proved to be the moments they felt better. This held true both for people who had been depressed in the past and for people who had never been depressed. That mental imagery was associated with positive emotions does not necessarily mean that enhancing imagination also improves mood.

Finally, it has been investigated whether negative emotions change in individuals who have repeatedly been depressed and follow a relapse prevention strategy. By assessing emotions repeatedly, emotional trajectories within individuals could be detected. It turned out that these trajectories differed from person to person. Follow-up research needs to investigate whether individual emotional changes indeed signal relapse .
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • University of Groningen
  • Bockting, Claudi, Supervisor
  • Holmes, Emily A, Supervisor, External person
  • Nauta, Maaike, Co-supervisor
Award date30-Nov-2017
Place of Publication[Groningen]
Print ISBNs978-94-034-0216-1
Electronic ISBNs978-94-034-0215-4
Publication statusPublished - 2017

Cite this