chapter  1
32 Pages

A theory of time perspective

A clear distinction has to be made between three different aspects of psychological time which often are referred to by the same term 'time perspective'. The first is time perspective proper, which is essentially characterized by its extension, density, degree of structuration, and level of realism as will be shown in the following sections. The second is time attitude and refers to a su bject's more or less positive or negative attitude towards the past, the present, and the future. Thus, one may anticipate one's fu ture as offering more opportunities than the past (op tim is tic future attitude) and have a negative attitude towards the present. Time orientation, finally, refers to the preferential direction in a subject's behavior and thought insofar as it is predominantly oriented towards objects and events in the past, the present, or the future. Thus, one may assume for instance that most young people are future-oriented, whereas older people are past-oriented. In this book, our main concern is with time perspective in its proper and limited sense. The concept of time attitude will be discussed in Chapter V. As to time orientation, we refer to Nuttin et al. (1979), De VoIder (1979), Cottle (1976) and Hoornaert (1973).