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Individual Differences in Temporal Perspective May Influence Cognitive Control Strategies


Research accumulating over the past 50+ years indicates that individuals who are future-oriented (FO) make wiser health decisions, have greater academic achievement, and have overall higher levels of well-being than individuals who are present- or past-oriented. The present study focuses on the cognitive differences in temporal perspective as a trait by addressing the hypothesis that high-FO individuals have increased cognitive control as compared to low-FO individuals. While a number of studies have examined the traits that influence cognitive control strategies—e.g. reward-sensitivity, threat-sensitivity, anxiety—none have addressed temporal perspective. Using recognition memory decision-making strategies as a medium for addressing cognitive control differences, the present study is able to address the recognition memory literature on individual differences in criterion shifting as well. The first hypothesis was that high-FO participants adopt an overall more conservative criterion in a recognition memory test than low-FO participants. The results revealed no correlation between temporal orientation and criterion placement. The second hypothesis was that high-FO participants will perform better than low-FO participants on the Recent-Probes task, a working memory task known to engage a proactive control strategy. No significant differences were found due to ceiling effects, therefore it remains unclear whether there is an inherent difference between high-FO and low-FO individuals in regards to working memory.

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