Positive fantasies about how future events will turn out can lead to increased depressive symptoms in the long run, revealed a new study.
Positive or negative thinking is more than just a personality trait. If an individual considers himself as an optimistic person,the bad news is that their sunny outlook makes them more prone to depression, according to a study conducted by the New York University.
‘When people indulge in positive fantasies, it can be seen as a protective factor dampening depressive symptoms in the short term. However, it causes depression in the long-term.’
Lead researcher Gabriele Oettingen said that the findings suggest that as pleasurable and helpful as positive fantasies are for depressive mood in the moment, they can be problematic and cumbersome over time.
In a series of four studies, Oettingen and colleagues found that the more positively participants fantasised about the future, the fewer depressive symptoms they showed at that moment but the more symptoms they showed at a follow-up session.
Additional findings indicate that individual effort may help to explain, at least in part, the link between positive fantasies and depressive symptoms.
College students who reported positive fantasies tended to report putting less effort into their coursework, this was, in turn, associated with lower grades and higher depression scores.
Oettingen said further experimental research would be needed to determine whether there is a direct causal link between positive fantasies and depressive symptoms in the long term.
The study is published in the journal Psychological Science.