The effectiveness of two online exercises intended to help individuals experience (1) self-compassion (n = 63) and (2) optimism (n = 55) were compared to a control intervention where participants wrote about an early memory (n = 70). A battery of tests was completed at 1 week following the exercise period, and at 1-, 3-, and 6-month follow-ups. Both active interventions resulted in significant increases in happiness observable at 6 months and significant decreases in depression sustained up to 3 months. The interventions were examined in relationship to dependency and self-criticism, both related to vulnerability to depression. Individuals high in self-criticism became happier at 1 week and at 1 month in the optimism condition in the repeated measures analysis. A sensitivity test using multi-level modeling failed to replicate this effect. More mature levels of dependence (connectedness) were related to improvements in mood up to 6 months in the self-compassion condition. This study suggests that different personality orientations may show greater gains from particular types of positive psychology interventions.
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Volume 5, 2010 – Issue 3
This study tested whether a brief manipulation consisting of positive future thinking can temporarily increase optimism. Participants in the positive future thinking condition (n = 44) wrote about their best possible self (BPS) for 15 min, followed by 5 min of mental imagery. Participants in the control condition (n = 38) wrote about and imagined a typical day in their life. Positive and negative future expectancies and positive and negative affect were measured before and after each manipulation. Compared to the control manipulation, the positive future thinking manipulation led to significantly larger increase in positive affect and positive future expectancies. The increase in positive expectancies was not dependent on the mood effect. The results indicate that imagining a positive future can indeed increase expectancies for a positive future.