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Contributors:
  1. Lynette J. Tippett

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Description: Imagination is an adaptive ability that can be directed towards the pursuit of personal goals. While there is a wealth of research on goals, and on imagination, few studies lie at the intersection—little is known about individual differences in goal directed imagination. In 153 adults, we examined how 28 aspects of goal setting, pursuit, and goal-directed imagination relate to mental health. Higher well-being and lower depressive symptoms were strongly linked to having goals that were more attainable, under control, and expected to bring more joy; and to goal-directed imagination that was clearer, more detailed, more positive, and less negative. Importantly, the emotional valence of goal-directed imagination strongly predicted well-being at a two-month follow-up, even after controlling for mental health at baseline. These findings underscore the relevance of goal-directed imagination to well-being and depressive symptoms, and highlight potential targets for goal- and imagery-based interventions to improve mental health.

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