Visual perspective as a two-dimensional construct in episodic future thought
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Visual perspective (first-person vs. third-person) is a salient characteristic of memory and mental imagery with important cognitive and behavioural consequences. Most work on visual perspective treats it as a unidimensional construct. However, third-person perspective can have opposite effects on emotion and motivation, sometimes intensifying these and other times acting as a distancing mechanism, as in PTSD. For this reason among others, we propose that visual perspective in memory and mental imagery is best understood as varying along two dimensions: first, the degree to which first-person perspective predominates in the episodic imagery, and second, the degree to which the self is visually salient from a third-person perspective. We show that, in episodic future thinking, these are anticorrelated but non-redundant. These results further our basic understanding of the potent but divergent effects visual perspective has on emotion and motivation, both in everyday life and in psychiatric conditions.