The Psychology of Thinking about the Future

Edited by Gabriele Oettingen, A. Timur Sevincer, and Peter M. Gollwitzer

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March 30, 2018
ISBN 9781462534418
Price: $85.00 $72.25
554 Pages
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February 12, 2018
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Price: $85.00 $72.25
554 Pages
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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.

“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, Florida State University; 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
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

Index


About the Editors

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.
Contributors

Francis T. Anderson, BA, BS, Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, Washington University in St. Louis, St. Louis, Missouri

Cristina M. Atance, PhD, Department of Psychology, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Daniel M. Bartels, PhD, The University of Chicago Booth School of Business, The University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois

Roger Buehler, PhD, Department of Psychology, Wilfred Laurier University, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada

Adam Bulley, BA, School of Psychology, The University of Queensland, St. Lucia, Queensland, Australia

Charles S. Carver, PhD, Department of Psychology, University of Miami, Coral Gables, Florida

Marina Chernikova, MS, Department of Psychology, University of Maryland, College Park, College Park, Maryland

James F. M. Cornwell, PhD, Department of Behavioral Sciences and Leadership, United States Military Academy, West Point, New York

Christina Crosby, BA, Department of Psychology, New York University, New York, New York

Franziska Damm, MSc, Institute of Psychogerontology, Friedrich-Alexander UniversityErlangen–Nuremberg, Nuremberg, Germany

Maria K. DiBenedetto, PhD, Science Department, Bishop McGuinness High School, Kernersville, North Carolina

Carol S. Dweck, PhD, Department of Psychology, Stanford University, Stanford, California

Gilles O. Einstein, PhD, Department of Psychology, Furman University, Greenville, South Carolina

Andrew J. Elliot, PhD, Department of Psychology, University of Rochester, Rochester, New York

Kai Epstude, PhD, Department of Psychology, University of Groningen, Groningen, The Netherlands

Angelica Falkenstein, MA, Department of Psychology, University of California, Riverside, Riverside, California

Ayelet Fishbach, PhD, The University of Chicago Booth School of Business, The University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois

Michael Gilead, PhD, Department of Psychology, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev,Beer-Sheva, Israel

Paul W. Glimcher, PhD, Center for Neural Science, New York University, New York, New York

Peter M. Gollwitzer, PhD, Department of Psychology, New York University, New York, New York, and Department of Psychology, University of Konstanz, Konstanz, Germany

Dale Griffin, PhD, UBC Sauder School of Business, The University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Hal E. Hershfield, PhD, UCLA Anderson School of Management, University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California

E. Tory Higgins, PhD, Department of Psychology, Columbia University, New York, New York

Lucian Hölscher, PhD, Department of Modern History, Ruhr University Bochum, Bochum, Germany

Jeremy P. Jamieson, PhD, Department of Psychology, University of Rochester, Rochester, New York

Katarzyna Jasko, PhD, Institute of Psychology, Jagiellonian University, Krakow, Poland

Evan M. Kleiman, PhD, Department of Psychology, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts

Anna B. Konova, PhD, Center for Neural Science, New York University, New York, New York

Arie W. Kruglanski, PhD, Department of Psychology, University of Maryland, College Park, College Park, Maryland

Frieder R. Lang, PhD, Institute of Psychogerontology, Friedrich-Alexander UniversityErlangen–Nuremberg, Nuremberg, Germany

Gary P. Latham, PhD, Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Nira Liberman, PhD, Department of Psychology, Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv, Israel

Edwin A. Locke, PhD, Department of Management and Organization, Robert H. Smith School of Business, University of Maryland, College Park, College Park, Maryland

Andrew K. MacLeod, PhD, Department of Psychology, Royal Holloway, University of London, Egham, United Kingdom

James E. Maddux, PhD, Department of Psychology, George Mason University, Fairfax, Virginia

Mark A. McDaniel, PhD, Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, Washington University in St. Louis, St. Louis, Missouri

Rory C. O’Connor, PhD, Institute of Health and Wellbeing, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, United Kingdom

Gabriele Oettingen, PhD, Department of Psychology, New York University, New York, New York

Jonathan Redshaw, PhD, School of Psychology, The University of Queensland, St. Lucia, Queensland, Australia

Daniel L. Schacter, PhD, Department of Psychology, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts

Michael F. Scheier, PhD, Department of Psychology, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Dale H. Schunk, PhD, School of Education, University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Greensboro, North Carolina

A. Timur Sevincer, PhD, Institute of Psychology, University of Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany

Paschal Sheeran, PhD, Department of Psychology and Neuroscience, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina

Oliver J. Sheldon, PhD, Rutgers Business School, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, Newark, New Jersey

James A. Shepperd, PhD, Department of Psychology, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida

Sushmita Shrikanth, BA, BS, Department of Psychology, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, Illinois

Kate Sweeny, PhD, Department of Psychology, University of California, Riverside, Riverside, California

Karl K. Szpunar, PhD, Department of Psychology, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, Illinois

Yaacov Trope, PhD, Department of Psychology, New York University, New York, New York

Thomas L. Webb, PhD, Department of Psychology, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, United Kingdom

David S. Yeager, PhD, Department of Psychology, The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, Texas

Marcel Zeelenberg, PhD, Department of Social Psychology, Tilburg University, Tilburg, The Netherlands
Audience

Researchers and students in social, cognitive, and personality psychology.
May serve as a supplemental text in graduate-level courses.