TIME PERSPECTIVE AS A POTENTIAL TOOL FOR PSYCHOTHERAPEUTIC INTERVENTION1

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Abstract

This pilot study shows (1) similarities among adults in the patterns of organization of the past, present, and future based upon individual imagery and spatial representation of their personal perspective of their lives and (2) a relationship between perceived health and future-orientation, i.e., how far into their future a person imagines self still to be alive. The data support the concept of a personal spatial representation of past, present, and future (a timeline) and sets the foundation for the development of psychological interventions based on this representation for 50 participants (23 men and 27 women). When asked to visualize their personal timelines, subjects indicated a general pattern of their future spatially located to the right and in front of themselves; their past was generally located to the left or behind. The distance into the future seen by participants initially (M±SE) were 8 ± 2.3 yr., 16 ± 2.8 yr., and 27 +5.5 yr. for the self-reported health status of “poor”, “good”, and “excellent”, respectively (p < .05). Research must firmly establish general patterns of spatial representations of time (timeliness) across cultures, age, race, and beliefs, and explore implications for treatment.

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