Time will tell: time perspective in bipolar disorder
Background: Time Perspective is an individual difference variable that is believed to underpin ‘virtually all aspects of human functioning’ (Boniwell & Zimbardo, 2010). Indeed, it has so far predicted a large variety of outcome variables in previous research, including behaviours, attitudes, values, habits and decision-making. However, it has never been tested as a predictor of mood, or in psychiatric disorders. Time perspective theory posits that a balanced time perspective is necessary for healthy functioning. Time Perspective biases, on the other hand, are believed to lead to maladaptive functioning. This thesis investigates whether time perspective does also underpin and predict the most extreme ends of the mood spectrum in bipolar disorder. Participants: Three online studies were conducted with two samples of adults with bipolar disorders and one sample of adults with no mental health diagnosis. Setting: All samples were collected online, from across the world. Objectives: A series of studies investigated various aspects of time perspective theory to establish the relationship between mood and time perspective. Ten research questions were designed to answer questions on time perspective’s ability to differentiate and predict mood, and to find out whether or not it functions differently in normal and abnormal mood. It was also established whether time perspective predicts mood states differentially. Methodology: Regression analyses, MANOVAs, ANOVA and t-tests were performed to answer the research questions. Results: Our time perspective profile does indeed appear to underpin bipolar mood states. All five time perspectives were able to differentiate between four bipolar mood states. When considered separately, the five time perspectives did appear to predict mood states differentially, i.e. different time perspectives were predictors for separate bipolar mood states. Moreover, time perspective does appear to function significantly different in adults with no mental health diagnosis. Conclusions: The results of this series of studies suggests that time perspective indeed also underpins mood and can differentiate between normal and abnormal bipolar mood states. Compared to impulsiveness and BIS/BAS sensitivity, time perspective was able to explain more variance in these samples when used as a predictor.