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K-State psychologists show that future-minded people make better decisions for their health
Date:12/23/2009

When New Year's Eve rolls around and you're deciding whether to have another glass of champagne, your decision may be predicted by your perspective of the future.

A pair of Kansas State University researchers found that people who tend to think in the long term are more likely to make positive decisions about their health, whether it's how much they drink, what they eat, or their decision to wear sunscreen.

"If you are more willing to pick later, larger rewards rather than taking the immediate payoff, you are more future-minded than present-minded," said James Daugherty, a doctoral student in psychology who led the study. "You're more likely to exercise and less likely to smoke and drink."

Daugherty conducted the research with Gary Brase, K-State associate professor of psychology. The research was presented in November at the Society for Judgment and Decision Making conference in Boston. It also appears in the January 2010 issue of the journal Personality and Individual Differences.

In addition to comparing people's perspectives on time with their health behaviors, the researchers also wanted to see what type of time perspective measurements are better at predicting health behaviors.

To answer both of these questions, Daugherty and Brase had subjects college students, with an average age of 19 years old answer surveys about whether they think in the short term or the long term.

"College students tend to be more future-minded by definition because they go to college rather than get a job right out of high school," Brase said.

One survey asked cognitive psychology questions like "Would you prefer $35 today or $45 in 35 days?" The other surveys used two types of social psychology methods. These included having the subjects rate the extent to which they agree with statements like "I am willing to sacrifice my immediate happiness or well-being in order to achieve future outcomes."

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Contact: Gary Brase
gbrase@k-state.edu
785-532-0609
Kansas State University
Source:Eurekalert

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