Writing Therapy Benefits May Be Dosage Dependent
Date of Graduation
Master of Science in Psychology
This study investigated whether there was a dosage effect for the benefits of writing therapy, specifically writing about one's best possible future self. The primary hypothesis was that writing about one's best possible future self twenty minutes per day for four days (high dosage) would result in more positive change in moods than would writing about one's plans for the day twenty minutes per day for three days and best possible future self only once (low dose). In addition to positive changes in mood, writing about one's best possible future self in a high dose was hypothesized to result in fewer visits to a health care provider and fewer absences from work or school due to illness. Adult participants were randomly assigned to high dose, low dose, or a control group and asked to write about their daily plans or their best possible future self for twenty minutes each day, and then e-mail responses to the author. Mood was measured after writing and participants reported the number of times they had seen a healthcare provider or missed school or work due to illness. After four days of writing all measures were assessed to determine if there was a dosage effect resulting in better subjective well being scores and fewer doctors visits, as well as illness related absences from school or work. Participants who wrote about their best possible future selves for four twenty minute sessions were significantly lower in anxiety than those who wrote about their best possible future self for only the first twenty minute writing session (low dose best possible future self first) and those who did not write (controls). The control group was more than twice as likely to miss school or work or work due to illness as those who wrote about best possible future self at least once. There were no difference in the number of visits to a health care provider for any of the participants. Implications for future research are discussed.
© Amber Heckman
Heckman, Amber, "Writing Therapy Benefits May Be Dosage Dependent" (2002). MSU Graduate Theses. 907.