Grateful Remembering, Present Awareness, and Hopeful Anticipation: An Assessment of Worrying and Mental Health in College Students

Faculty Mentor(s)

Dr. Lindsey Root Luna

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Gratitude, mindfulness, and hope are three constructs that, along with individual associations with unique dimensions of time, have been empirically linked with positive outcomes (Vøllestad, Nielsen, & Nielsen, 2012; Rash, Matsuba, & Prkachin, 2011; Carr, 2004). The purpose of this study is to assess how brief experimental inductions of gratitude, mindfulness, and hope impact the psychological experience of worry and whether individual difference variables moderate the effects. In this incomplete repeated measures design experiment, undergraduate students (N = 89) complete individual difference measures. Next, they spend time two minutes imagining a current worry. Participants then write down three grateful thoughts, three things they could be mindful of, and three hopes for the future, followed by two-minute mental imagery inductions (counterbalanced order across participants). Between each condition, participants complete state questionnaires and rate their worry and mood. To test our hypothesis that engaging in positive mental imagery will attenuate worry, we will perform a within-subjects ANOVA comparing means for the self-report ratings after each imagery trial. We predict that each imagery induction will significantly decrease the psychological effects of worry and increase positive emotion and flourishing. We anticipate that gratitude will have the largest impact in reducing worry and increasing hope and flourishing. Finally, we hypothesize that individual difference variables, specifically trait emotion regulation, anxiety, and flourishing, will moderate these effects. Our findings will indicate how individual differences in trait hope, gratitude, mindfulness, worry, and flourishing are associated with participants’ responsiveness to the three interventions to cope with worry. We will also be able to describe worry’s relationship with anxiety and depression following brief interventions. Our findings will also suggest relative effectiveness of the three worry-coping strategies which we hope will provide novel insight into the treatment of worry in a clinical setting.

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