Time, Culture, and Life-Cycle Changes of Social Goals

Chapter

Abstract

Sophie loved meeting different kinds of people and joining various social activities when she was young. Yet, as she grew older, she gradually reduced her social contacts. At Sophie’s 65th birthday, her family members suggested inviting the entire neighborhood to her birthday party. But she declined. Rather than having a noisy party packed with people, she preferred having a private dinner with a handful of close relatives.

Paul, at his early thirties, was eager to strive for career success and spent almost all his time on work. However, when he found out that he had lung cancer, he shifted his focus away from his career. He now spent more time with his wife and his close friends.

Though the shifts in social goals in the above two cases are seemingly different, we argue that they both reflect the same underlying motivational process. Gentle and not-so-gentle life events, such as aging or being diagnosed with a terminal illness, remind us of the finitude of life, which in turn affects our priorities and goals. In this chapter, we will first review theories and research on how social goals change across adulthood, and how time perspective may account for the change. Then we will describe how time perspective differs across socio-cultural contexts and review empirical evidences for the effects of these differences on social goals. Finally, we will discuss the theoretical and practical implications of understanding the role of perceived time in social motivation.

Keywords

Pneumonia Expense Verse Broom 

Notes

Acknowledgment:

Work by the first author was supported by two direct grants for research from Chinese University of Hong Kong and an Endowment Fund Research Grant from United College, Chinese University of Hong Kong.

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Chinese University of Hong KongHong KongThe People’s Republic of China

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