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19-12-2018 | Original Article | Uitgave 4/2019

Psychological Research 4/2019

The tendency for experiencing involuntary future and past mental time travel is robustly related to thought suppression: an exploratory study

Psychological Research > Uitgave 4/2019
Adriana del Palacio-Gonzalez, Dorthe Berntsen
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Involuntary mental time travel (MTT) refers to projecting oneself into the past or into the future without prior conscious effort. The previous studies have shown high inter-individual variability in the frequency of involuntary MTT, but a few systematic studies exist. In three exploratory studies, we investigated the relation between individual differences in experiencing involuntary past and future MTT, and selected emotional and cognitive processes, with a special focus on thought suppression. Across all three studies, thought suppression emerged as a robust predictor of involuntary MTT above and beyond emotion-related variables, mind-wandering, daydreaming styles, and demographic variables. Findings from Studies 1 and 2 showed that higher thought suppression consistently predicted both more frequent involuntary past and future MTT across an American and a Danish sample, whereas rumination and emotion regulation were less consistently related to involuntary MTT. In Study 3, thought suppression reliably predicted more frequent involuntary MTT, even when controlling for mind-wandering, as well as for positive and negative daydreaming styles, which were all related to greater involuntary MTT. Overall, the individual differences assessed showed similar relationships to the tendency for having past and future involuntary MTT, with the possible exception of daydreaming styles, which appeared more strongly related to future-directed involuntary MTT.

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