The future and me: Imagining the future and the future self in adolescent decision making

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Abstract

Feeling connected to one’s future self and imagining one’s personal future (Episodic Future Thinking, EFT), are known to attenuate short-sighted decision making in adults. Less is known about how these constructs overlap, or how they relate to impulsivity in adolescents. This study investigated how future self-connectedness, EFT and a number of other future-oriented constructs relate to one another and to the tendency to discount the future. 175 adolescents (11 – 18 years) completed measures of EFT, future self-connectedness, time attitudes, temporal focus, depressive symptomatology and temporal discounting. EFT and future self-connectedness were significantly correlated, indicating adolescents who felt connected to their future selves imagined the future with greater episodic richness. EFT and future self-connectedness independently predicted discounting. Weak associations between the future-oriented constructs, and their differential relations with discounting, indicate these measures assess distinct, but loosely related temporal constructs. Results suggest that combined interventions may improve future-oriented decision making in adolescents.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)142-156
JournalCognitive Development
Volume50
Early online date09 May 2019
DOIs
Publication statusEarly online date - 09 May 2019

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Decision Making
Impulsive Behavior
Emotions
Thinking

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title = "The future and me: Imagining the future and the future self in adolescent decision making",
abstract = "Feeling connected to one’s future self and imagining one’s personal future (Episodic Future Thinking, EFT), are known to attenuate short-sighted decision making in adults. Less is known about how these constructs overlap, or how they relate to impulsivity in adolescents. This study investigated how future self-connectedness, EFT and a number of other future-oriented constructs relate to one another and to the tendency to discount the future. 175 adolescents (11 – 18 years) completed measures of EFT, future self-connectedness, time attitudes, temporal focus, depressive symptomatology and temporal discounting. EFT and future self-connectedness were significantly correlated, indicating adolescents who felt connected to their future selves imagined the future with greater episodic richness. EFT and future self-connectedness independently predicted discounting. Weak associations between the future-oriented constructs, and their differential relations with discounting, indicate these measures assess distinct, but loosely related temporal constructs. Results suggest that combined interventions may improve future-oriented decision making in adolescents.",
author = "Robyn McCue and Teresa McCormack and James McElnay and Alix Alto and Aidan Feeney",
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AU - McCormack, Teresa

AU - McElnay, James

AU - Alto, Alix

AU - Feeney, Aidan

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AB - Feeling connected to one’s future self and imagining one’s personal future (Episodic Future Thinking, EFT), are known to attenuate short-sighted decision making in adults. Less is known about how these constructs overlap, or how they relate to impulsivity in adolescents. This study investigated how future self-connectedness, EFT and a number of other future-oriented constructs relate to one another and to the tendency to discount the future. 175 adolescents (11 – 18 years) completed measures of EFT, future self-connectedness, time attitudes, temporal focus, depressive symptomatology and temporal discounting. EFT and future self-connectedness were significantly correlated, indicating adolescents who felt connected to their future selves imagined the future with greater episodic richness. EFT and future self-connectedness independently predicted discounting. Weak associations between the future-oriented constructs, and their differential relations with discounting, indicate these measures assess distinct, but loosely related temporal constructs. Results suggest that combined interventions may improve future-oriented decision making in adolescents.

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