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

subjects then took surveys that asked questions like how often they ate breakfast, used tobacco and exercised, as well as their concerns with health risks like high cholesterol and contracting AIDS.

Daugherty and Brase found that the subjects who gave future-minded answers in the initial surveys were more likely to report healthy behaviors in the latter survey. They said this could have consequences for how people deal with negative health behaviors.

"There is a lot of potential for helping people make better health decisions," Brase said. "People who tend to have a very present-minded perspective will have an easier time following through with a change if they can see rewards sooner. So if somebody goes into a weight loss center, the clinicians could measure a client's time perspective. Then the clinicians would know the more effective way of helping the client reach his or her weight loss goal."

Daugherty said a present-minded person could be encouraged by emphasizing minimal investment now for a quick payoff in the near future. He said it's similar to exercise equipment commercials that tout by exercising 20 minutes a day, several times a week, you will see immediate payoffs.

"You promote the idea that you have to do very little and you're going to see these great results," Daugherty said.

He and Brase also found that by asking social psychology questions to determine whether someone was future-minded or present-minded, the researchers were better able to predict subjects' health behaviors.

"On the academic side, we hope to provide psychologists with a better understanding of which of these measurements of time perspective are most useful," Brase said.

To continue the research, Daugherty and Brase will look at how present-mindedness and future-mindedness correlate with environmentally responsible behaviors like recycling.

"Environmentally responsible behaviors are not benefitting only you, a
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Contact: Gary Brase
gbrase@k-state.edu
785-532-0609
Kansas State University
Source:Eurekalert

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