Thinking about the future: A psychological analysis

Bruce E. Tonn1, Fred Conrad2
1University of Tennessee, United States
2University of Michigan, United States
Cite this article:  Tonn, B., & Conrad, F. (2007). Thinking about the future: A psychological analysis. Social Behavior and Personality: An international journal, 35, 889-902.

Volume 35 Issue 7 | e1621 | Published: August 2007 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.2224/sbp.2007.35.7.889

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In this paper, the relationships between three endogenous variables – thinking about, worrying about, and imagining the future – and the relationships between these variables and a rich set of exogenous variables were explored. Data were collected via a web-based survey using a sample of convenience; 572 individuals from 24 different countries completed the survey. The results suggest that respondents think about the near-term future frequently and about the long-term future not at all frequently. Additionally, individuals who are better able to imagine the future think about the future more than those who cannot imagine the future well. Those who worry more about the future tend to think more about the future than those who do not. Older individuals think about the future less than younger individuals even though age is not correlated with worrying about or imagining the future. Christians think more about the future than others although they also tend to worry less about the future. Secularists are less able to imagine the future. Individuals who are worried about major issues like global warming tend to think more about the future. The results suggest that training individuals to better imagine potential futures could give them more confidence to think more and worry less about their futures.
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