Research Proposal Paper Sample: Prospection and Its Effect on Depression and Anxiety

Published: 2022-06-15
Research Proposal Paper Sample: Prospection and Its Effect on Depression and Anxiety
Type of paper:  Research proposal
Categories:  Psychology Research Depression
Pages: 6
Wordcount: 1630 words
14 min read

Prospection signifies the evaluation and depiction of probable futures by the mind. More often than not, it involves daydreaming, prediction, planning, teleological patterns, hypothetical scenarios and evaluative assessments of possibilities in the future. Basically, prospection indicates how well an individual can be capable of bringing their mental evaluations and representations possible futures into bearing on the selection of an action.

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The ability of a prospective thought becomes an essential psychological power, analogous to other basic abilities such as reasoning and language. It should, therefore, be acknowledged as a fundamental explanatory variable in the science of psychology as it seeks to nurture the emerging science of prospection (Tulving, 2005).

More often than not, prospection becomes adaptive in individuals. However, when the ability gets amiss, it is projected that the individual might experience disruption of emotions and motivation, thus causing possible depression. Furthermore, social phobia or social anxiety disorder can occur in any kind of social setting. It is assumed that the anxiety disorder occurs as a result of prediction of future anxiety. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, an individual can be diagnosed with a social anxiety disorder if their performance or social fears, avoidance or anxiety persist for more than 6 months (Hassabis, 2007).

Unfortunately, clinical comprehension of the function played by prospection in an individual's familiarity of anxiety and depression remains an area that lacks from research as evident by the recent call for papers from both the British Journal of Clinical Psychology and the American Psychological Association (Buckner, 2007). This research seeks to address the scarcity in what could be an integral part of depression and anxiety development. In turn, it pursues the clarification of treatment methodologies that use this information to develop successful interventions for those experiencing depression and anxiety (Seligman, 2013).

Summary of research project

The pivotal hypothesis for this study is that individuals suffering from social anxiety can pre-experience the future with less episodic details. Therefore it aims to test whether social anxiety is caused by prospection. The research seeks to unravel the association between prospection and anxiety or depression. By understanding the association, it would then be possible to seek a remedy for the treatment of depression and anxiety. The understanding, further, allows for use of mental imagery to determine a possibility of generating radiological images of areas of the brain involved in prospection.

Significance of research

Depression and anxiety are two prevalent mental health problems in the current generation. Furthermore, the symptoms associated with the two mental health problems are comorbid. Both anxiety and depression present devastating economic, social, and health consequences associated with mental health problems. It, therefore, requires a deep understanding of the underlying mechanisms of treatment. It would form the basis of future intervention for the vulnerable populations such as prisoners. With such evidence-based practice at intervention, it is expected that the cost associated with treating mental health problems with reducing drastically for the at-risk populations due to reduced misdiagnosis and improved health outcomes.

The current research has a double purpose across two fields of research with the first being neuroscience in that if those with impoverished future thoughts can generate similar cerebral images, then the possibilities for radiological images to isolate and capture areas of the brain where depression and anxiety can be seen. This can enable mental health professionals to begin treatment on those individuals within society that may be experiencing the somatic effects of depression and anxiety, possibly saving millions of dollars on misdiagnosis. It is also hoped that future research can refine the future scene construction measure to better operationalize it across all populations (Gilbert, 2007).

Research Plan

The method and the procedure

The current research will be recruiting a general sample of male and female individuals from the Melbourne community, and assessing them for varying levels of depression, anxiety and prospective memory abilities. Participants will be recruited via various social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, as well as via flyers placed in doctor's surgeries, chemists, mental health clinics and shopping Centre notice boards. All the social media advertisements will use a similar flyer to the one that will be used in the various public locations. Only participants who consent will be included in the study. Additionally, participants with cognitive impairment shall be dropped from the study (Kwan, 2010).

The purpose of this sequential explanatory mixed method study will be to isolate possible differences in prospection abilities in individuals experiencing mental illness against a control group with no mental health issues. The study will be administering five measures, to a group of participants whom will then be divided into three groups; Depressed, anxious and control, based on their test scores. On entering the variables into the statistical software package "G*Power v3.1.9.2" and setting a repeated analysis of variance (ANOVA) with measures within and between interactions, and an alpha of 0.05, a total sample of 39 was recommended (Buckner, 2007). It is hoped that a sample of 45 can be obtained to account for possible cases of missing data.

The current research will employ a mixed method approach to explore the phenomenon of prospections whilst still maintaining the quantitative processes to isolate each individual participant's correct group allocation due to test scores achieved on depressive and anxiety measures (Schoonenboom, 2017).

The measures

The study will use a number of measures using various diagnostic tools for depression and anxiety as discussed below:

Test of Premorbid Functioning (TOPF): this test enables clinicians to estimate the levels of cognitive operation before the start of illnesses or injuries. It is an efficient technique of forecasting memory performance and is ideal for clinicians who desire to mature suitable treatment policies. The test involves a record of 70 terms that have an uncommon translation from grapheme to the phoneme. To estimate the change in abilities, the test can be administered together with the WAIS-IV assessmentCITATION Bla89 \l 2057 (Blair, 1989).

Beck Depression Inventory (BDI-II): this is a 21-item self-rated gauge which evaluates primary signs of despair such as a sense of failure, suicidal ideas, moods, guilt, self-dislike, pessimism, self-accusation, punishment, and self-dissatisfaction among others. Each of the questions in the questionnaire is often ranked from zero to three. The statements express common feelings of depression with each set having ten positive and negative statements. The total score ranges from zero to sixty-three with higher scores reflecting higher depressionCITATION Bla89 \l 2057 (Blair, 1989).

Autobiographical Memory Interview (AMI): this is an interview that is semi-structured with samples recollections across three far-reaching periods of time. Apart from evaluating the sense of reliving as rated by participants, it also evaluates specificity scale which replicates typical measures of autobiographical specificity. From the interview, if there is general info about a subject, no point is attributed. For a recurrent event, one point is attributed. For an occasion situated in time, two points are attributed. For an event lasting less than 24 hours, three points are attributed. Lastly, for specific events situated in time and enriched with details e.g. emotions, four points is attributed (Spreng, 2009).

The State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI): this inventory includes 20 items for measuring trait apprehension and 20 others for measuring state apprehension. Trait apprehension includes statements such as being tensed or worried etc. while state anxiety involves statements such as being tensed over something or being worried about something. In the inventory, the higher the score, the higher the anxiety (Blair, 1989).


The initial research on future-orientated prospection was done by Elizabeth Loftus in 1971. Only 45 research studies were conducted between that pivotal article and the first book published on prospection in 1996 (Kwan, 2010). Research on prospection is comparatively novel in the areas of psychology, with most studies focused on individuals' past as the connection to their present psychopathology (Kwan, 2010). Prospection has not yet become the central focus on psychology bearing in mind the insufficiency of experimental studies looking at the influence of prospection on anxiety and depression.

Data Analysis

All results from the sample would be subjected to Duff's formulae for premorbid memory (Blair, 1989). The sample should yield forecast scores for Delayed Recall and Total Recall for the revised Hopkins Verbal Learning Test and/or the revised Brief Visuospatial Memory Test (Blair, 1989). Further, ordinary scores on the subtest of the Wide Range Achievement will be corrected for age and used (when applicable) to forecast functioning of premorbid memory (Blair, 1989). The study will use ordinary scores from either the Wechsler Test of Adult Reading or functioning Test of Premorbid, corrected for age (Blair, 1989).

Primary analyses will compare these forecast scores of the premorbid memory to their particular scores of present memory with four t-tests that will depend on each other. The sizes of the effects will then be projected from the t-tests. Additionally, a corrected alpha value of p < 0.0125 will be used for four prime contrasts. Resultant analyses will be used to examine the association between the differences between scores from current and premorbid memory. Further, global measures of cognition will be used to check whether more severely damaged patients had higher differences between estimated scores for current and premorbid. The Pearson correlation and comparison of the sizes of effect will be examined for the secondary analyses. The study will also use a value of p < .05 for the secondary analyses (Blair, 1989).


Blair, J. R. (1989). Predicting premorbid IQ: a revision of the National Adult Reading Test. The Clinical Neuropsychologist, 3(2), 129-136.

Buckner, R. L. (2007). Self-projection and the brain. Trends in cognitive sciences, 11(2), 49-57.

Gilbert, D. T. (2007). Prospection: Experiencing the future. Science, 317(5843), 1351-1354.

Hassabis, D. K. (2007). Patients with hippocampal amnesia cannot imagine new experiences. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 104(5), 1726-1731.

Kwan, D. C. (2010). Deficits in past remembering extend to future imagining in a case of developmental amnesia. Neuropsychologia, 48(11), 3179-3186.

Schoonenboom, J. &. (2017). How to construct a mixed methods research design. Kolner Zeitschrift fur Soziologie und Sozialpsychologie, 69, 107-131. Retrieved from

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