Future-time Manipulation Influenced the Prioritization of Health and Social Goals
1City University of Hong Kong, China
Background: People with a limited future-time perception (FTP) are likely to engage more in emotionally meaningful goals but less in healthy behaviors. In view of the potential conflict between health and social goals, this study tested whether FTP affected goal prioritization and intentions to be physically and socially active. Methods: Participants (n=262) elicited 3 health and 3 social goals, ranked the goals on importance, and reported exercise and social engagement intentions. They were randomly assigned to receive open-ended, limited, or unchanged FTP manipulations. Afterward, participants ranked the goals and reported the intentions again. Findings: Both open-ended and limited FTP conditions led to a shift toward social over health goals as compared with unchanged condition. People in the limited FTP condition intended to exercise less than those in the control condition. Discussion: Both open-ended and limited FTP manipulations might make time constraints salient and shifted people’s attention toward social goals. No such pattern was observed in exercise intention, suggesting the existence of temporal mechanisms other than the socioemotional selectivity theory.