Back to the future: Temporal perspective in the explanation of events

Back to the future: Temporal perspective in the explanation of events Prospective hindsight involves generating an explanation for a future event as if it had already happened; i.e., one goes forward in time, and then looks back. In order to examine how shifts in perspective might influence people's perceptions of events, we investigated two possible factors: temporal perspective (whether an event is set in the future or past) and uncertainty (whether the event's occurrence is certain or uncertain). In the first experiment, temporal perspective showed little influence while outcome uncertainty strongly affected the nature of explanations for events. Explanations for sure events tended to be longer, to contain a higher proportion of episodic reasons, and to be expressed in past tense. Evidence from the second experiment supports the view that uncertainty mediates not the amount of time spent explaining, but rather subjects' choice of explanation type. The implications of these findings for the use of temporal perspective in decision aiding are discussed. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Journal of Behavioral Decision Making Wiley

Back to the future: Temporal perspective in the explanation of events

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Publisher
Wiley
Copyright
Copyright © 1989 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
ISSN
0894-3257
eISSN
1099-0771
DOI
10.1002/bdm.3960020103
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Prospective hindsight involves generating an explanation for a future event as if it had already happened; i.e., one goes forward in time, and then looks back. In order to examine how shifts in perspective might influence people's perceptions of events, we investigated two possible factors: temporal perspective (whether an event is set in the future or past) and uncertainty (whether the event's occurrence is certain or uncertain). In the first experiment, temporal perspective showed little influence while outcome uncertainty strongly affected the nature of explanations for events. Explanations for sure events tended to be longer, to contain a higher proportion of episodic reasons, and to be expressed in past tense. Evidence from the second experiment supports the view that uncertainty mediates not the amount of time spent explaining, but rather subjects' choice of explanation type. The implications of these findings for the use of temporal perspective in decision aiding are discussed.

Journal

Journal of Behavioral Decision MakingWiley

Published: Jan 1, 1989

References

  • Inferential Processes in the Construction of Scenarios
    Jungermann, Jungermann

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