If It Ticks Like a Clock, It Should Be Time Perspective: Shortcomings in the Study of Subjective Time

If It Ticks Like a Clock, It Should Be Time Perspective: Shortcomings in the Study of Subjective Time

Victor E. C. Ortuño (Universidad de la República, Uruguay)
Copyright: © 2019 |Pages: 20
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-8163-5.ch011
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In recent years, the concept of time perspective has acquired a prominent position within the psychology of time. After Zimbardo and Boyd´s seminal work, thousands of papers have cited its work and within the last decade; several books and papers of other authors have been dedicated to exploring and expanding its theory. Even when considering other relevant authors about this topic, such as Nuttin and Lens, among many others, Zimbardo´s theory has become a synonym of time perspective research. This chapter represents an effort to identify some of the existent shortcomings in subjective time research and more specifically in time perspective topics. This chapter intends to encourage a mostly needed discussion about what the actual state of the research being developed is and what precautions should be taken into consideration in future researches.
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How Many Time Perspectives Exist?

A key barrier to the development of research and knowledge in Subjective Time and more specifically in Time Perspective topics is the vast aggregate of definitions and operationalisations that this concept has presented throughout the years. As Wallace (1956) points out, several temporal concepts such as time sense, time orientation, time perspective and time perception are frequently used without a proper conceptual and operational characterization. Therefore, it has been complex to reach a consensus among researchers about how many temporal dimensions exist (Gupta et al., 2012) and which ones really matter in the study of human behaviour. Even the term “perspective” possesses various non-technical meanings, which have contributed to the existing conceptual confusion (Nuttin & Lens, 1985). Gjesme (1983, p. 445), when analysing the Future Time Orientation literature concludes that it is possible to support almost “any conclusion you prefer to draw”, due in part to the inconsistency in the chosen methods, experimental designs and terminology.

One of the most influential authors concerning the psychology of time, Fraisse (1957) argues that, given the extensive variety of temporal concepts, it is exceptionally difficult if not impossible to unify all the “temporal phenomena” into a coherent and integrative model of human subjective temporality. Kastenbaum (1961) further complemented this idea, arguing that “there is much that could be accomplished in this direction by exploring the interrelationships between future time perspective and certain other temporal variables” (p. 215). In most cases, the research being conducted is focusing in isolated positions about subjective time, without considering how different theories can complement each other.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Temporal Orientation: A concept related with subjective time. Refers to the individuals´ tendency of focusing on a particular temporal frame.

Balanced Time Perspective: Individuals´ ability to modify the focus of its temporal profile, depending on situational demands.

Subjective Time: A specific field of study within psychology of time. It is dedicated to the study of conscious cognitive processes directly related with time, such as time perspective or time orientation.

Consideration of the Future Consequences: A personality trait within the subjective time field. It is related with the assessment and consideration of the immediate and future results of present-moment behaviors.

Temporal Extension: A concept within subjective time. Refers to the psychological distance between a motivational object and the present moment.

Time Perspective: A concept within subjective time field. Refers to the process of organizing and retrieving all information using a set of temporal frames which compose individuals´ temporal profile.

Psychology of Time: A general field of study within psychology. It is devoted to the study of all time-related phenomena with influence in human cognition and behavior.

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