1st Edition

The Psychology of Thinking about the Future

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ISBN 9781462534418
Published April 27, 2018 by Guilford Press
554 Pages

USD $85.00

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Book Description

Why do people spend so much time thinking about the future, imagining scenarios that may never occur, and making (often unrealistic) predictions? This volume brings together leading researchers from multiple psychological subdisciplines to explore the central role of future-thinking in human behavior across the lifespan. It presents cutting-edge work on the mechanisms involved in visualizing, predicting, and planning for the future. Implications are explored for such important domains as well-being and mental health, academic and job performance, ethical decision making, and financial behavior. Throughout, chapters highlight effective self-regulation strategies that help people pursue and realize their short- and long-term goals.

Table of Contents

Introduction, Gabriele Oettingen, A. Timur Sevincer, & Peter M. Gollwitzer
Setting the Stage
1. Future-Thinking: A Historical Perspective, Lucian Hölscher
2. Future-Thinking in Animals: Capacities and Limits, Jonathan Redshaw & Adam Bulley
3. Varieties of Future-Thinking, Karl K. Szpunar, Sushmita Shrikanth, & Daniel L. Schacter
I. Imagery
4. Future-Thinking in Young Children: How Do We Measure It and How Can We Optimize It?, Cristina M. Atance
5. The Future Self, Hal E. Hershfield & Daniel Bartels
6. Counterfactual Thinking, Kai Epstude
7. Fantasy about the Future as Friend and Foe, Gabriele Oettingen & A. Timur Sevincer
II. Beliefs and Judgments
8. Expectations in the Academic Domain, Dale H. Schunk & Maria K. DiBenedetto
9. Self-Efficacy, James E. Maddux & Evan M. Kleiman
10. Positive Future-Thinking, Well-Being, and Mental Health, Andrew K. MacLeod & Rory C. O'Connor
11. Generalized Optimism, Charles S. Carver & Michael F. Scheier
12. Fluctuations in Future Outlooks: Unrealistic Optimism and Pessimism in Outcome Predictions, James A. Shepperd, Angelica Falkenstein, & Kate Sweeny
13. A Neuroeconomist's Perspective on Thinking about the Future, Anna B. Konova & Paul W. Glimcher
14. Anticipated Regret: A Prospective Emotion about the Future Past, Marcel Zeelenberg
15. Thinking about the Future: A Construal Level Theory Perspective, Michael Gilead, Yaacov Trope, & Nira Liberman
16. Perceiving Future Time across Adulthood, Frieder R. Lang & Franziska Damm
III. Goals and Plans
17. Planning Out Future Action, Affect, and Cognition, Peter M. Gollwitzer & Christina Crosby
18. Mindsets Change the Imagined and Actual Future, Carol S. Dweck & David S. Yeager
19. Long-Range Thinking and Goal-Directed Action, Edwin A. Locke
20. The Effect of Priming Goals on Organizational-Related Behavior: My Transition from Skeptic to Believer, Gary P. Latham
21. The Forward Rush: On Locomotor's Future Focus, Arie W. Kruglanski, Marina Chernikova, & Katarzyna Jasko
22. Where I Ideally Want to Be versus Where I Ought to Be: Regulatory Focus and the Future, James F. M. Cornwell & E. Tory Higgins
23. To Approach or to Avoid: Integrating the Biopsychosocial Model of Challenge and Threat with Theories from Affective Dynamics and Motivation Science, Jeremy P. Jamieson & Andrew J. Elliot
24. Anticipating and Overcoming Unethical Temptation, Oliver J. Sheldon & Ayelet Fishbach
25. The Road to Hell: An Overview of Research on the Intention–Behavior Gap, Paschal Sheeran & Thomas L. Webb
26. Multiple Processes in Prospective Memory: Exploring the Nature of Spontaneous Retrieval, Gilles O. Einstein, Mark A. McDaniel, & Francis Anderson
27. The Planning Fallacy, Roger Buehler & Dale Griffin

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Gabriele Oettingen, PhD, is Professor of Psychology at New York University and the University of Hamburg, Germany. Dr. Oettingen's research differentiates among various types of thinking about the future and examines their developmental and situational origins, as well as their effects on the control of cognition, emotion, and behavior. She has pointed out the perils of positive thinking and discovered mental contrasting, an imagery-based self-regulation technique that, by drawing on nonconscious processes, is effective for mastering one’s everyday life and long-term development. Dr. Oettingen has published in journals of social, personality, developmental, educational, health, clinical, organizational, and consumer psychology, as well as in neuropsychological and medical journals. Her work led to the creation of effective and easy-to-apply behavior change interventions, and she is the author or coauthor of several books in the area of behavior change.

A. Timur Sevincer, PhD, is Assistant Professor in the Institute of Psychology at the University of Hamburg, Germany. Dr. Sevincer’s primary research interest is motivation and self-regulation, including, for instance, the spontaneous use of self-regulation strategies, their effect on physiological energization, the effect of alcohol on motivation and self-regulation, and motivational underpinnings of migration toward cosmopolitan cities. Dr. Sevincer is the author or coauthor of more than 25 scholarly publications in such journals as Psychological Science, the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, the Journal of Abnormal Psychology, Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, and Motivation and Emotion.

Peter M. Gollwitzer, PhD, is Professor of Psychology at New York University and the University of Konstanz, Germany. Dr. Gollwitzer's research examines how goals and plans affect people’s cognition, affect, and behavior. He has developed various models of action control: the theory of symbolic self-completion (with Robert A. Wicklund), the Rubicon model of action phases (with Heinz Heckhausen), the auto-motive model of automatic goal striving (with John A. Bargh), the mindset model of action phases, and the theory of implementation intentions. In these theories, the underlying mechanisms of effective action control are delineated, and respective moderators are distilled. Dr. Gollwitzer's recent research focuses on developing easy-to-conduct but powerful behavior change interventions. He has published many influential journal articles, book chapters, and books.


"Impressive. The star-studded lineup of productive, creative researchers provides a rich assortment of fascinating perspectives on how human minds grapple with the importance and uncertainty of what lies ahead. This book is a terrific resource for anyone wishing to be brought up to date on what psychology has learned about this vital aspect of everyday life. It is full of provocative ideas and surprising facts and findings."--Roy F. Baumeister, PhD, Department of Psychology, University of Queensland, Australia

"This fascinating volume brings together leading scholars who provide a wealth of perspectives on future-thinking, organized around three distinct functions of exploration, prediction, and planning and achieving goals. Contributors detail how thinking about the future affects nearly every aspect of human thought and behavior--physical and psychological health, academic performance, self-regulation, persistence toward goals, ethical decision making, political choices, perception of time, anticipated regret, and more. The volume draws new connections across seemingly distinct areas of research, and will be of interest to graduate students and researchers alike. It is sure to generate future collaborations and connections across disciplines, and in so doing, to improve people's lives."--Susan A. Gelman, PhD, Heinz Werner Distinguished University Professor, Department of Psychology, University of Michigan

"One of the marks of what it is to be human is the ability to think about the future, and this excellent volume explores the many vicissitudes of prospection. It contains cutting-edge chapters from prominent researchers in many disciplines. I can easily imagine a future in which all psychologists have this book on their shelves!"--Timothy D. Wilson, PhD, Sherrell J. Aston Professor, Department of Psychology, University of Virginia