Journal Article

Future self-imagery of young people in Sweden during the COVID-19 pandemic : an exploratory mixed methods analysis


Global restrictions imposed during the COVID-19 pandemic significantly limited the capacity to plan for the future. Little is known about young people’s future self-images and the impact the COVID-19 pandemic may have had upon them. Given evidence that the ability to imagine a positive future can be protective for mental health, research into the impact of the pandemic on future self-imagery is needed. In two studies, we therefore explored the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic for future self-imagery in an unselected sample of young people in Sweden, specifically: (a) how content and characteristics of future self-images changed from before to during the pandemic, and (b) how such change was related to trauma history, intrusive memories of COVID-19 media footage, past time perspective and optimism (assessed with questionnaires/intrusive memory diary). Future self-images before and during the pandemic were assessed using the ‘I Will Be’ task (NStudy1=74; NStudy2=99). A mixed methods design, combining quantitative analysis, qualitative content coding and thematic analysis was used. Exploratory results of Study 1 indicated that future images were rated as less positive during than before the pandemic and that this reduction was less pronounced in people with higher optimism. Results were replicated in an independent sample (Study 2, collected later during the pandemic). In conclusion, whilst the findings are preliminary and emerged from an unselected sample, they prompt the suggestion that brief, novel interventions which aim to bolster positive future imagery may hold promise as a scalable means by which to enhance mental health for young people in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Attached files


Singh, Laura
Rathbone, Clare J.
Moulds, Michelle L.
Holmes , Emily A.

Oxford Brookes departments

Department of Psychology, Health and Professional Development


Year of publication: 2022
Date of RADAR deposit: 2022-12-01

Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License

Related resources

This RADAR resource is Identical to Future self-imagery of young people in Sweden during the COVID-19 pandemic: an exploratory mixed methods analysis


  • Owner: Joseph Ripp
  • Collection: Outputs
  • Version: 1 (show all)
  • Status: Live
  • Views (since Sept 2022): 732