Temporal landmarks such as birthdays and significant calendar dates structure our perception of time. People might highlight temporal landmarks spontaneously in an effort to regulate connections between temporal selves. Five studies demonstrated that landmarks are used spontaneously to induce psychological separation from undesirable temporal selves. Participants were more likely to think of events that fell in between the current and the future self if an imagined future self was negative than if it was positive (Studies 1a, 1b, and 2). Furthermore, when a self-enhancement mindset was activated, participants were more likely to call to mind intervening temporal landmarks to protect themselves from a negative future self than when this mindset was not activated (Study 3). Finally, when psychological separations between the current self and a negative future self were introduced through alternate means, participants no longer selectively used landmarks to separate themselves from this future self (Study 4).

Additional Metadata
Keywords possible selves, self-enhancement, self-protection, temporal landmarks, temporal selves, time
Persistent URL dx.doi.org/10.1177/0146167213501559
Journal Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin
Citation
Peetz, J, & Wilson, A.E. (Anne E.). (2014). Marking Time: Selective Use of Temporal Landmarks as Barriers Between Current and Future Selves. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 40(1), 44–56. doi:10.1177/0146167213501559