The Power of Time Perspectives

In the above video, Professor Philip Zimbardo discusses some intriguing theories about how people’s time perspectives affect their behavior. He posits that belief systems regarding time influence everything from work ethic to health.

Incidentally, Professor Zimbardo is also the same person who ran the Stanford Prison Experiment, which is featured in the video below.

Both perspectives present some intriguing theories about human behavior. I’m curious to hear what readers think about each video.

About Sean Patrick Hazlett

Finance executive, engineer, former military officer, and science fiction and horror writer. Editor of the Weird World War III anthology.
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5 Responses to The Power of Time Perspectives

  1. Neat post, thanks, Sean. I had the lecture on in the background– am not gonna watch that documentary, but I know the story.

    Much to react to in that lecture, on individuals, cultures, and changes in culture over time.

    I’m sympathetic to his point that our more wired culture affects our brains and our discourse, as I wrote in a post that I guess was a negative review of a negative review, defending Nicholas Carr’s “The Shallows”. I’m also sympathetic to his point about how countries can have certain cultures– but it’s important to note, as he kinda does at the end regarding our wired youth, that cultures can change over time.

    I don’t know exactly how Florence does these days in those studies of Italians’ views on time, as it’s in Tuscany just north of where the country would be split, but as the Renaissance was getting going, Florentines viewed the carefree German way of existence as a respite from the fast pace of Italian life. And 100 years ago, people thought that Catholics and Asians would never be able to accommodate democracy because of their views on fate & authority.

    • My apologies for the long delay.

      I completely agree that cultures change over time. Like you, I found this study rather fascinating. I don’t know if I would except the premise whole hog, but it is certainly interesting (and worth sharing).

      • No worries on delays, real life happens sometimes. And yes, it’s hard to buy the whole thing hook, line, & sinker, but a lot to think over. In particular, I’d stress in response to that lecture the importance of variance within a culture– and even in a given individual, over time, or in different contexts.

        Societal pressures, or new habits, or neat pictures can change our temporal frame of reference:

        As part of the research, students were placed in front of a computer screen that either showed them as they were or as they might look in 30 years. They were then asked what they would do with $1,000 given to them at that moment. Those who had seen their future self allocated twice as much of the windfall to a retirement account. In another experiment, students who had seen their wrinkled future self said they would put 6.75% of their paychecks into a 401(k) plan compared with 5.2% from those who weren’t exposed to their future selves.
        A report, Behavioral Finance in Action by Shlomo Benartzi at the UCLA Anderson School of Management, argues that it is extremely difficult for humans to envision themselves much older but that those who can conjure a realistic vision have a significantly higher savings rate.

  2. Scott Erb says:

    My perspective of time makes it hard for me to decide to watch 40 minutes of video…but I’ll try to in the next few days!

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