Skip to main content
Open Access Publications from the University of California

Time to get attention: The effect of temporal values on health, income and happiness


We study the effect of people’s temporal values (habits of attending to past or future events) on their health, labour market performance and happiness. Participants’(N=1177) data were initially collected in 2016 and followed in 2020-2021. We find that habitually more attending to the future negatively correlates to diseases (heart attack; high cholesterol; diabetes; high-blood pressure), but positively associates with health-related behaviour (eating vegetables and fruit; less smoking), health status (e.g., healthy weight; long life expectancy), income, hourly wages, financial satisfaction and happiness. Furthermore, such temporal values predict participants’ future situation of these aspects in 2020-2021, even after controlling for the 2016 baseline situation, IQ, self-control, patience, risk aversion and demographic information. We propose a temporal values and well-being hypothesis, suggesting that individuals’ temporal values can predict their concurrent and longitudinal all-around well-being. Our findings have strong implications for theories of time perception, and for a better understanding of factors that influence people’s health, income, and happiness.

Main Content
For improved accessibility of PDF content, download the file to your device.
Current View