The Self in Time: The Impact of Past-Focus on Well-Being and Intergroup Relations
Hadary, Oshrat A.
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Time perspective is a fundamental human capacity that shapes thoughts, feelings, and behaviors about the self and others. The present research explores the associations between subjective time, both positive and negative individual and intergroup outcomes, and determines whether temporal focus is affected by situational factors. In Study 1, temporal focus, as an individual difference, and its relation to positive and negative well-being was measured utilizing a newly developed temporal focus inventory. Higher past-focus scores were associated with higher uncertainty avoidance, whereas higher present-focus scores were associated with higher well-being. In Study 2, lack of certainty and control were experimentally manipulated to test their effect on temporal focus. Lack of certainty and control did not affect past-, present-, or future-focus. However, higher perceived conflict resulted in a greater focus on the past. In Study 3, the associations among temporal focus, well-being, and intergroup relations. Lower scores on past-focus and higher scores on future-focus were related to higher scores on intergroup trust. In Study 4, the effects of past- and future-focus combined with culture on intergroup outcomes were studied. Cultural differences suggest that the likelihood of a resolution in a time of conflict while focused on the past may be reduced, whereas a future-focus may lead to more opportunities for reconciliation. The results suggest that temporal focus has important implications for both personal and social outcomes, but also that temporal focus may be amenable to modification under some circumstances.