Temporal thought content

When are you thinking about - are you remembering something from yesterday, concentrating on the present, or preoccupied by thoughts of tomorrow? These research projects explore the temporal orientation of thoughts.


Goal setting over different time frames

In collaboration with J. Busby Grant and J. Brinker

  • There is a well-established literature about whether people approach or avoid situations, thoughts and and feelings to achieve their goals
  • There is a parallel literature that shows people think differently about short term (e.g. within the next week) and long-term (e.g. within five years) goals.
  • It's possible that people's approach or avoidance tendencies might be different depending on the time frame of the goal
This project seeks to explore the relationship between a tendency toward past, present or future focused thought and goal setting and achievement.

Mental Time Travel

In collaboration with J. Busby Grant

  • Mental time travel is a common everyday ability to think about times other than the present (e.g. remembering dinner last night, and thinking about dinner tomorrow night)
  • Most of the mental time travel literature has been done in a laboratory
  • New methods of communicating with participants via mobile phone can help to bring this research out of the laboratory

This project establishes the first example of how repeated measures sampling can be used to gain a better understanding of mental time travel and its correlates.

Despite substantial advances in our understanding of our cognitive capacity to remember events from our past and imagine events that we may experience in the future, much of the literature is confined to laboratory based experiments. This project used an ambulatory assessment paradigm and SMS and web-capable mobile telephones to collect self-report, repeated measures data in a naturalistic setting.

Click here to read the paper: Busby Grant, J., & Walsh, E. (2016) Exploring the use of experience sampling to assess episodic thought. Applied cognitive psychology 30(3) 427-478. DOI: 10.1002/acp.3215

I also presented the talk "Methodological Advances Regarding Mental Time Travel" at the International Society For The Study of Individual Differences (Barcelona, Spain, 22nd - 25th of of July). It was impromptu (I didn't know it'd be accepted until the night before) so the slides aren't pretty, but you can read them if you wish!



The impact of rumination, stress, and worry on nightly sleep and sleep variability

In collaboration with J. Brinker 

  • Sleep difficulties can have detrimental effects of varying severity on physical and psychological health.
  • Separate research has shown rumination and worry can impact negatively on sleep.
  • There is debate surrounding whether rumination and worry are different constructs, or if they are the same thing.

This project is uses an outcome (impact on sleep) as a tool for distinguishing between two constructs largely characterized by their temporal thought orientation.

Click here to read more about this project.

Click here to see the talk slides for: Walsh, E. & Brinker, J.K. (2012) The impact of rumination and worry on nightly sleep - a trait and state approach Poster, 47th Annual Australian Psychological Society Conference (Perth, 27th - 30th September)