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Future-time perspective in adolescence: The present of things future revisited

Abstract

Several theorists have suggested that the observed changes in adolescent future-time perspective are due to the emergence of formal-operations reasoning [e. g., T. J. Cottle and S. Klineberg (1974),The Present of Things Future, Free Press-Macmillan, New York; P. Fraisse (1963),The Psychology of Time, Harper & Row, New York; H. Hartmann (1958),Ego Psychology and the Problem of Adaptation, International Universities Press, New York; J. Piaget (1968),Six Psychological Studies, Vintage Book, New York]. Using a cross-sectional sample of 60 Caucasian adolescents, the present study was designed to examine this hypostatized interrelation. Data obtained through individual interviews provide only limited support for a cognitive hypothesis. As predicted, older students showed greater future extension and the more cognitively advanced students proved better able to project a set of events into the distant future. However, neither the older, nor the more cognitively advanced, students projected a greater number or a more consistent set of future events than did their respective counterparts. Moreover, analysis of the types of events projected obtained significance only for grade level. The findings are discussed from a contextualist perspective, within which consideration is given to the influence of experiential and life-span status factors.

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This paper is an expanded version of one presented as part of the symposium entitled, “The Timing of Life Events in Adolescence,” at the annual meeting of the Educational Research Association, Montreal, Canada, April 11–15, 1983. This work was completed while the author was a Clinical Research Training Fellow in Adolescence (funded by T32 MH 14668) at the Institute for Psychosomatic and Psychiatric Research and Training, Michael Reese Hospital and Medical Center, in a program also sponsored by the Department of Behavioral Science (Human Development) and Psychiatry, University of Chicago, and the Adolescent Program of the Illinois State Psychiatric Institute.

Received a Ph.D. from Boston University. Research interests include cognition, self-concept, and adolescence.

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Greene, A.L. Future-time perspective in adolescence: The present of things future revisited. J Youth Adolescence 15, 99–113 (1986). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02141732

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Keywords

  • Grade Level
  • Individual Interview
  • Future Event
  • Psychological Study
  • Limited Support