Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Graduate Group


First Advisor

Paul Rozin

Second Advisor

Gal Zauberman


The present research examines the factors that affect how people think about the future. Chapter 1 examines how choice affects future time perception. Two experiments manipulated the presence of choice regarding future experiences, and asked participants to indicate their subjective temporal distance to the future experiences. Results showed that the future experiences felt closer when people had a choice about them compared to when they did not have such a choice. Chapter 2 examines how valence and culture affect the sequence preference for future experiences. The results from two studies showed that people were more likely to prefer an ascending sequence for negative experiences than positive experiences, and that people were more likely to prefer a descending sequence for positive experiences than negative experiences. They also showed that Americans were more likely to prefer an ascending sequence than Indians and that Indians were more likely to prefer a descending sequence than Americans. Chapter 3 examines how culture affects temporal orientation. Building on prior research that has compared the cultural differences on past, present, and future orientation, I hypothesize that East Asians focus on the past and future more than North Americans, and North Americans focus on the present more than East Asians. It is suggested that in addition to a cultural difference in the focus on the three temporal domains, when moving from any past or future time point toward the present, North Americans’ focus on the temporal domain grows more than East Asians’ focus. I present evidence in three categories. Specially, I compare East Asians’ and North Americans’ focus on a temporal domain, their mental representation of a temporal domain and their subjective temporal distance to a temporal domain.

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Psychology Commons