Best possible future self writing: Effects on well-being, self-regulation, and related processes

BEAN, Megan Rose (2019). Best possible future self writing: Effects on well-being, self-regulation, and related processes. Doctoral, Sheffield Hallam University.

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Best possible future self (BPFS) writing has consistently been shown to immediately increase positive affect and may elicit sustained improvements in well-being (e.g. Frein & Ponsler, 2014; King, 2001). It has been suggested that the well-being benefits of BPFS writing occur because the intervention increases self-regulation (King, 2001; 2002). This explanation is conceivable because of similarities between BPFS writing and future-oriented mental simulation, which has been found to benefit self-regulatory processes (e.g. Pham & Taylor, 1999). However, prior to the current research-programme, effects of mental simulation in comparison to writing about a BPFS had not been explored, and effects of BPFS writing on self-regulation had not been measured. The overarching aim of this thesis was to explore the suggestion that BPFS writing improves physical and psychological well-being through increasing self-regulation. In the first study BPFS writing bolstered self-regulation eight weeks following a single session but BPFS simulation did not, suggesting that they are not comparable processes. In the second study, the effect of BPFS writing on self-regulation was not replicated using four writing sessions. No sustained well-being benefits emerged in either study. It was suggested that the null findings in both studies may have arisen due to procedural characteristics, yet it is difficult to ascertain the effects that procedural variations may have on outcomes due to wide procedural heterogeneity throughout the literature. A systematic review was therefore conducted to explore the impact of BPFS writing on a range of physical and psychological outcome measures. Findings demonstrated that immediate increases in positive affect following BPFS writing are generalisable across procedural variations, but that longer-term benefits to well-being and cognitive processes, including self-regulation, appear limited. A contribution of this thesis has been the direct exploration of effects of BPFS writing on self-regulation, as well as a systematic review which provides the most comprehensive synthesis of evidence surrounding BPFS writing to date.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Thesis advisor - Ward, Katie [0000-0002-7967-5419]
Additional Information: Director of studies/Supervisor - Dr Katie Ward
Research Institute, Centre or Group - Does NOT include content added after October 2018: Sheffield Hallam Doctoral Theses
Identification Number:
Depositing User: Louise Beirne
Date Deposited: 03 Jul 2019 13:58
Last Modified: 03 May 2023 02:03

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