Title

Fearing the future? Future-oriented thought produces aversion to risky investments, trust, and immorality

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2-1-2017

Subject Area

ARRAY(0x5577fa214400)

Abstract

Three experiments tested the behavioral effects of prospection on risk tolerance, trust, and moral judgment. While previous research shows that people generally hold positive beliefs about their futures, our analysis demonstrates that actively thinking about one's future engenders conservative behaviors to avoid potential losses or harm. In Experiment 1, writing about one's future self, compared to one's present self, caused people to favor low-risk, low-payoff investments rather than high-risk, high-payoff ones. In Experiment 2, restating sentences about the future (as opposed to the present) reduced behavioral trust. Participants shared less money with various partners in a potentially lucrative investment game. That same manipulation of prospection in Experiment 3 increased blame for misdeeds - while having no effect on praise for virtuous action. These finding suggest that, although people often hold optimistic beliefs about the future, prospection may lead people to behave cautiously as if wary about what could go wrong.

Publication Title

Social Cognition

Volume

35

Issue

1

First Page

66

Last Page

78

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

10.1521/soco.2017.35.1.66

ISSN

0278016X

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