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Seeing the FutureTheoretical Perspectives on Future-Oriented Mental Time Travel$
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Kourken Michaelian, Stanley B. Klein, and Karl K. Szpunar

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780190241537

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: June 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190241537.001.0001

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Episodic Future Thinking in Children

Episodic Future Thinking in Children

Methodological and Theoretical Approaches

(p.367) 18 Episodic Future Thinking in Children
Seeing the Future

Cristina M. Atance

Caitlin E. V. Mahy

Oxford University Press

Episodic future thinking, or the capacity to mentally project the self into the future, has attracted attention across various areas of psychology, including the study of human development. This chapter outlines two main methodological approaches—verbal and behavioral—used to study children’s capacity to mentally project into the future. Results from verbal approaches suggest that children’s talk about the future becomes more accurate and elaborate with age and is also generated with less contextual support. Behavioral methods provide converging evidence that episodic future thinking develops substantially between ages 3 and 5, and highlight the role of memory in certain tasks that assess children’s future planning. The chapter concludes by arguing that research on children’s episodic future thinking would profit from identifying key dimensions that may impact this ability, including level of conflict between current and future states, and whether mental projections into the future pertain to “self” or “other.”

Keywords:   episodic future thinking, psychology, behavioral, memory, human development

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