People differ in the extent to which they focus on their personal future, past, or present. Across four studies (using both correlation and experimental designs), we explore whether people also have a temporal orientation when thinking about the social groups to which they belong (i.e., their in-group). In Studies 1–3, participants’ personal temporal orientation was moderately linked with, but distinguishable from, their collective temporal orientation for their national self (i.e., ‘American’). In Study 2, evidence is provided for the predictive validity of this novel concept. Specifically, greater collective past orientation was positively associated with reported collective guilt (a group-based emotion that reflects the acceptance of culpability for historical harms perpetrated by the in-group), and greater collective future orientation focus on the in-group's future was positively associated with collective angst (a group-based emotion that reflects concern about existential threats the in-group may face). In Study 3, collective temporal orientation was shown to differ across several groups’ participants listed as self-relevant. In Study 4, participants randomly assigned to think about a past-oriented social group to which they belong reported more frequent focus on the in-group's past than participants randomly assigned to think about a future-oriented in-group (and vice versa for collective future focus). This research advances the literature on time perspective by showing that temporal cognition extends to the social self.

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British Journal of Social Psychology
Department of Psychology

Peetz, J, & Wohl, M. (2018). Perceiving time through group-based glasses: Collective temporal orientation. British Journal of Social Psychology. doi:10.1111/bjso.12291