Who You Are, Who You Wish You Were, and Who You Should Be: How Augmented Attained Ought Goal Priming May Be Used Therapeutically
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According to Self-Discrepancy Theory, ideal goals are characterized by hopes, dreams, and wishes, while ought goals are characterized by duties, responsibilities, and obligations. Failed ideal goals are met with depression-like symptoms and decreased left prefrontal cortex activity, while failed ought goals are met by more anxiety-like symptoms and decreased right prefrontal cortex activity; however chronic goal failure of either type may result in clinical levels of depression or anxiety, depending on the goal type, as well as attenuated responsivity within the left and right prefrontal cortices accordingly. Although the literature regarding the neural correlates of these phenomena is limited, there is reason to believe that a masked attained ideal or ought goal priming procedure with a greater degree of priming exposures than the standard procedure could improve neural activation in these regions to a degree not yet achieved among significantly dysphoric individuals. To test this, we used an augmented rapid masked idiographic goal priming paradigm and fMRI to present individually-selected triggers for attained ought or ideal goals that had been previously reported. This data was compared with a previous study in which participants received the same procedure in its standard form, meaning they received a quarter of the exposures to goal triggers received by those in the augmented conditions. Whereas previous studies have found that standard ideal goal priming discriminately increases activation in the left prefrontal cortex while standard ought goal priming discriminately increases activation in the right prefrontal cortex, our study’s augmented attained ought goal priming produced the greatest activation in both regions (L/R MFG BA9). As expected, all augmented goal priming conditions elicited greater activation than the corresponding standard conditions in all areas analyzed, with the exception of ideal goal priming in the right orbitofrontal cortex (MFG BA9), in which the augmented and standard conditions produced approximately equivalent activation. As a proof of principle study, our study does not have much of a body of literature within which to be interpreted; however, our findings seem to indicate that the interrelationships between goal type, goal priming procedure, and prefrontal cortex activity may be more complex and that attained ought goal priming may have more powerful effects, than originally predicted. Further exploration within a larger, more diverse, more dysphoric sample with greater statistical power, more extensive behavioral data, and longitudinal follow-up is necessary in order to better understand the interplay between goal priming, emotions, and these complex neural networks. Experts should use the results of these studies to inform potential future development of diagnostic or therapeutic tools.
DepartmentPsychology and Neuroscience
Subjectmasked priming procedure
event related fMRI paradigm
regulatory focus theory
ought and ideal goals
anxiety depression dysphoria
CitationHedrick, Haley (2019). Who You Are, Who You Wish You Were, and Who You Should Be: How Augmented Attained Ought Goal Priming May Be Used Therapeutically. Honors thesis, Duke University. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/18365.
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Rights for Collection: Undergraduate Honors Theses and Student papers