Date of Award

Spring 5-7-2020

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Departments/Programs

Psychology

First Advisor

Dr. Mindy Engle-Friedman

Second Advisor

Dr. Joshua Plotnik

Academic Program Adviser

Dr. Sandeep Prasada

Abstract

An experimental study was conducted (N = 175) to test for differences between thinking about the future and the present when it came to sustainable behavior and attitudes. Previous studies show temporal discounting can be overcome at least in the short term to alter current behaviors; however, there is a gap in the literature in regards to sustainable behaviors. This study used similar techniques to determine whether environmentally protective behavior can be altered by having an individual imagine themselves in the future. Participants were randomly assigned to one of three groups, a current other, current self, or a future-self group. The groups did not differ in response to the Ecocentric and Anthropocentric Attitudes Scale and the Future Self-Continuity Scale prior to the experimental manipulation. The current other group was asked to imagine someone other than themselves in the present. The current-self group was asked to imagine themselves in the present. The future-self group was asked to imagine themselves in the 60 years into the future. We found those asked to imagine themselves in the future acted more sustainably in the FISH 4.0 simulation on variables including individual efficiency, individual restraint, and seasons lasted. On the surveyed environmental dilemmas, no differences were found between groups in the option selection, with nearly 84% of all groups choosing the environmentally protective decision. Our findings suggest that imaging oneself in the future at age influences sustainable behavior in comparison to thinking about the current other or current self.

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