Future Time Perspective and Motivation: Theory and Research Method

Future Time Perspective and Motivation: Theory and Research Method

Future Time Perspective and Motivation: Theory and Research Method

Future Time Perspective and Motivation: Theory and Research Method

Excerpt

The present volume is a theoretical and methodological supplement to my book Motivation,planning,and action:A relational theory of behavior dynamics (Nuttin, 1984). In that book, I tried to show among other things that behavior dynamics in man, due to their interaction with higher cognitive functioning, are processed into goals and means-end structures, i.e. behavioral projects or plans. The objects of these plans or goals are temporally localized in a more or less distant future, thus creating a future time dimension - a time perspective - in the subject's behavioral world. The relationship between future time perspective and cognitively processed motivation is the theoretical underpinning of our method for studying and measuring future time perspective.

The main purpose of the theoretical section of this book (Chapter 1) is to contribute to the integration of the future time dimension in the study of human motivation and behavior. Although ignored in many psychological textbooks, the future is an essential component of a person's behavior and his behavioral world. The ability to construct far-distant personal goals and to work toward their realization is an important characteristic of human beings. It is implied in the achievement of major projects where long-term instrumental steps are required and where the regulating impact of a goal is necessary from the very beginning of the enterprise. It seems plausible to admit that the psychological inability of some people to achieve long-term projects is related to a lack of future time perspective. One thinks of people for whom in many countries the necessity of immediate satisfaction of physiological needs continuously dominates behavior. Psychological treatment gradually extending their future time perspective, paralleling the development of their economic conditions, may be a necessary step in improving their motivation and achievement. On the other hand, several groups, such as juvenile delinquents and elderly people, seem to have problems related to future time perspective. Giving people a future to live in and to work for may become a crucial challenge for applied psychology in the society of tomorrow. Similar problems exist in youngsters who, lacking a future time perspective, are unable to . . .

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