Background and objectives: Optimism is a personality trait which has repeatedly been shown to correlate with, and predict psychological and physical well-being. The present study investigated whether optimism can be increased by imagining a best possible self (BPS). Effects were compared to a control group in which participants imagined their daily activities (DA).
Methods: In order to minimize inter-individual differences in content of imagery, participants constructed their BPS according to 3 domains, namely a personal, relational, and professional domain. All participants were instructed to practice their imagery exercise for 5 min per day over a period of two weeks. Effects on optimism and mood were measured after one session, after one week and after two weeks.
Results: Results indicated that BPS imagery led to significantly larger increases in optimism as compared to DA imagery, after one session and over a two week period. Effects on optimism remained after controlling for possible mediation by the change in positive mood.
Limitations: In order to test the effectiveness of our BPS imagery intervention we relied exclusively on self-report measures.
Conclusion: The present study confirmed that imagining a BPS enhances levels of optimism, independent of the mood effect.
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