Affiliations: Université Lille, CNRS, CHU Lille, UMR 9193 – SCALab – Sciences Cognitives et Sciences Affectives, F-59000 Lille, France
Corresponding author: Mohamad El Haj, Laboratoire SCALab UMR CNRS 9193 – University of Lille, Domaine du Pont de Bois, 59653 Villeneuve d’Ascq, France. E-mail: [email protected].
Abstract: A body of research has investigated the cognitive and affective features of imagining the future. Our study aimed at extending this research by evaluating expressions that are triggered by future thinking. Participants were asked to remember and to imagine personal events. Both past and future thinking were video-recorded and the recording was later analyzed by a software for facial analysis that detects and classifies basic emotional expressions (i.e., happy, sad, angry, surprised, scared, disgusted and neutral). The analysis showed more emotional and fewer neutral facial expressions during imagining the future than during remembering the past. These findings mirror a wealth of psychological research highlighting the emotional valence of future thinking, which has been mainly assessed in this research by subjective methodologies. Our work provides an empirical description of facial expressions that can be triggered by imagining the future.
Keywords: Autobiographical memory, facial expressions, future thinking, imagining the future