Psykologisk Institut

Dorthe Berntsen

Prepartum mental time travelling: Investigating specificity and content of time travelling and their association with psychological distress

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Background and objectives
The current study compared mental time travelling in a group of first-time pregnant women with that in a group of non-pregnant women. We predicted that specificity of birth-related events would be negatively associated with psychological distress.

Fifty-nine pregnant women and 59 controls were assessed twice. Pregnant women were assessed before (Time 1) and after (Time 2) childbirth, controls before and after an identical time period. Time travelling was evaluated under two different conditions, where participants generated memories and future predictions in response to neutral words.

No significant changes in psychological distress were observed over time. At Time 1, pregnant women were more likely to mentally travel to the future, and in general travelled further away from the present. Overall, they generated fewer specific events, which in turn was associated with less worry. The number of birth-related events was negatively associated with worry and positively with positive affect, whereas the number of specific birth-related events was negatively associated with positive affect, and positively associated with both symptoms of psychological distress, negative affect, and worry.

The potential negative effect of specificity should be replicated in future studies, in longitudinal studies or experimentally, in order to address causal relations.

Pregnancy involves alterations in mental time travel, and specificity in events, recalled or imagined, was associated with more worry within the pregnant group, indicative of a detrimental effect. This goes counter to many previous studies assigning a positive role of specificity and warrants further exploration.
TidsskriftJournal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry
Antal sider9
StatusUdgivet - dec. 2020

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