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Time Perspective in The Construction of Psychology

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As stated by Mooney, et al, (2017), the concept of whether people focus on the past, present or future, and how it forms their behavior is referred to as Time Perspective. Zimbardo and Boyd (1999), described Time perspective (TP) as a fundamental dimension in the construction of psychology of time, which emerges from reasoning processes separating human experience into past, present and future temporal frames. TP is a universal and powerful yet largely unrecognized influence on a significant part of human behavior. Although TP variations are learned and modified by a variety of personal, social and institutional influences, TP also functions as an individual – differences variable. Keough, et al, (1999), described it as a central process learnt early in life that affects the ways individuals relate to people and events. This process is determined by culture, religion, social class, education, and family influences. According to Zimbardo and Boyd, (1999), TP gives order rationality and meaning to events such that the continuous flow of personal and social experiences is designated temporal categories or time frames.

Since TPs are used in storing, recording, encoding, recalling experienced events, forming expectations, goals, imaginative scenarios and possibilities, they play a key role in prompting an individual’s judgment, decision and actions. The inadequacy of our mental resources as they are continually invested in a variety of activities, sources of information and control processes has led to the storage of a minute amount of information that forms a part of our conscious experience .Consequently our past, present, and future permanently strive for resources, because focus on one of them usually pushes the remaining two outside of our field of attention. Individuals who focus on the future, they will probably ignore their past, and leave only a small part of cognitive resources to control their present situation. Similarly, concentration on the present will reduce resources available for eventual considering future consequences of present behavior, and so on. Such transitory focus may have robust consequences for the individuals’ actual behavior.

Several instruments have been developed to measure TP but none of these instruments were reliable or could be used to measure all the three dimensions of time consequently. The Zimbardo’s Standard Time Perspective Inventory (STPI) addresses the shortcomings of the previous scales that were unreliable or could not be used to measure all the three dimensions of time. It provides an easy way to measure multiple time perspectives as individual temporal profiles and it is built on a theoretical basis that takes into cognizance the factors that are influenced by TP such as social, cognitive and motivation emotional processes. The STPI was developed to provide a standard measure of time perspective with clearly demonstrable psychometric properties and has been used to predict a considerable amount of personal and behavioral features.

There are five notable dimensions that can be used to define one’s time perspective, independently from the existence of the three natural time horizons (past, present, and future). The first factor, the Past-Negative scale of the ZTPI,

contains a negative, aversive view of the past. The second factor, the Present-Hedonistic scale, reflects a hedonistic, risk-taking attitude towards time and life, with little concern for future consequences. Persons scoring high on Present-Hedonistic are oriented towards present pleasure, love taking risks, enjoy intense activities, seek excitement and are open to friendships. The third factor, the Future factor, characterizes people who focus on future goals and rewards. Future-oriented persons give importance to consequences, contingencies and the outcomes of present decisions and actions. Past-Positive, the fourth time factor, reflects a warm, pleasurable, sentimental and nostalgic attitude towards the past, with the emphasis on maintaining relationships with family and friends. The fifth and last factor, Present-Fatalistic, reveals a fatalistic, helpless and hopeless attitude towards life and the future.

Theoretically healthy individuals would be cognitively balanced among past, present and future frames, but when individuals overstress one of the three frames, a cognitive temporal “bias” would appear affecting how decisions are made. This bias results to a dispositional style that may determine individuals’ specific responses across situations. In turn, this bias if severe can have negative consequences for health-related behaviors. For example, individuals who are strongly biased toward the present might not consider the future consequences of their acts by decreasing risk perception of behaviors such as smoking, substance use, or physical inactivity.

According to Sustton (2004), the concept of health behavior can be regarded as any behavior that may affect an individual’s physical health or any behavior that an individual believes may affect their physical health. Spring et al, (2012), stated that health risk behaviors are those harmful actions that increases the chances of illness in individuals or slow down recovery processes. They further stated that at least five categories of behavior have been constantly found to be linked with increased morbidity and mortality. These are: consuming a diet high in calories, fat and sodium, and low in nutrients, low levels of physical activity and high levels of sedentary activity, smoking cigarettes, abusing substances including alcohol, prescription and illicit drugs, and engaging in risky sexual behaviors. Barnett, (2017), further added that personal health behaviors have been implicated in preventing chronic disease and improving one’s general wellness. Health protective behaviors are actions that tend to reduce disease risk or assist in there instatement of health. Spring, et al, (2012) enumerated three health protective behaviors that have been linked with better health and recovery from illness. These are: being physically active, eating fruits and vegetables, being adherent with prescribed medication.

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Time Perspective In The Construction Of Psychology. (2019, July 10). GradesFixer. Retrieved May 22, 2022, from
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