Academic journal article Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal

Future Time Orientation and Religion

Academic journal article Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal

Future Time Orientation and Religion

Article excerpt

The purposes of this study were to evaluate whether Future Time Orientation (FTO) was associated with interest in the future beyond death, and/or with level of belief in religion, and also to validate an instrument aimed at measuring belief in religion in Turkish society. Gjesme's (1979) FTO scale was administered to 244 undergraduate students from Middle East Technical University together with a scale developed to measure Belief Orientations and a single-item measure designed to assess a subject's level of interest in the future beyond death. Results indicated that those who scored high in FTO also tended to score high in level of interest about the future beyond death and level of belief in God (intrinsic religiosity), compared to those who scored low in FTO. Research implications and suggestions for future studies are discussed.

Keywords: Future Time Orientation, afterlife, intrinsic religiosity, religious orientation, religion.

As present acts result from past experiences and future intentions, each individual continually focuses on their past, present and future and consequently learns the sense of time (Doob, 1971). The concept of Future Time Orientation (FTO) involves "the tendency to spontaneously think about and to attach importance to future", together with "the ability to envisage future over short and long periods of time" and "the capacity to consider antecedents and consequences of a problem over short and long periods of time" (Agarwal, Tripathi, & Srivastava, 1983, p. 368).

Research findings in general indicate that extended FTO is positively correlated to academic success, problem-solving and planning ability and delay of gratification (Alvos, Gregson, & Ross, 1993; Barndt & Johnson, 1955; Davids, Kidder, & Reich, 1962; Klineberg, 1967; Mischel, 1974; Murrell & Mingrone, 1994; Stein, Sarbin, & Kulik, 1968; Teahan, 1958).

FTO may have relevance to concerns about afterlife. Individuals with extended future time orientation are presumably expected to focus on the future beyond death. On the other hand, individuals with low FTOs may not be as much interested in the issue of what happens after death, as they may be more involved in their life at present. Interest in the future beyond death may be accompanied with belief in afterlife. In that sense the issue of FTO is proposed to relate to religion.

Religions traditionally have addressed concerns about life after death (Falkenhain & Handal, 2003; Kurleycheck, 1976; Rasmussen & Johnson, 1994; Thorson, 1991) and this is as true in Islam (Ghorbani, Watson, Ghramaleki, Morris, & Hood, 2002) as in other religions. The content dimensions of religiosity vary across research studies (Faulkner & De Jong, 1966; Fukuyama, 1961; Stark & Glock, 1968).

Allport (1966) suggested two ways of being religious: intrinsic orientation in which religion is considered to be the master motive in life, and is an aim in itself; and extrinsic orientation in which religion is a way to other aims, such as attaining social status and security. Allport conceptualized extrinsic orientation as practical, consensual, exteriorized and immature in contrast to intrinsic orientation, which is associated with being sincere, committed, interiorized and retaining mature faith. Extrinsic (E) and Intrinsic (I) scales were developed to measure these two religious orientations. Several problems with the measuring instrument were noted due to the inconsistent findings in relation to correlations between the E and I scales and the criterion measure of prejudice (Kirkpatrick, 1989; Kirkpatrick & Hood, 1990).

Two other approaches to religious orientation have been suggested to replace extrinsic and intrinsic orientations which tend to focus on religious content. The suggested alternatives are religious fundamentalism and religious quest which refer to the ways in which individuals hold their beliefs together with individuals' openness to change those beliefs. …

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