Dec 11

“The Time Paradox”: What’s Your Time Perspective?

Time perspective is a term coined by psychology prof Philip Zimbardo. Do you know what yours is? Why would you care? According to the subtitle of The Time Paradox (2008) by Zimbardo and John Boyd, this is “The New Psychology of Time That Will Change Your Life.”

It’s not really just one paradox, but a series of them, however. Examples given on the website:

Paradox 1
Time is one of the most powerful influences on our thoughts, feelings, and actions, yet we are usually totally unaware of the effect of time in our lives.

Paradox 2
Each specific attitude toward time—or time perspective—is associated with numerous benefits, yet in excess each is associated with even greater costs.

Paradox 3
Individual attitudes toward time are learned through personal experience, yet collectively attitudes toward time influence national destinies.

Jane Collingwood writes in a Psych Central article about the five approaches to time perspective that Zimbardo has identified:

The ‘past-negative’ type. You focus on negative personal experiences that still have the power to upset you. This can lead to feelings of bitterness and regret.
The ‘past-positive’ type. You take a nostalgic view of the past, and stay in very close contact with your family. You tend to have happy relationships, but the downside is a cautious, ‘better safe than sorry’ approach which may hold you back.
The ‘present-hedonistic’ type. You are dominated by pleasure-seeking impulses, and are reluctant to postpone feeling good for the sake of greater gain later. You are popular but tend to have a less healthy lifestyle and take more risks.
The ‘present-fatalistic’ type. You aren’t enjoying the present but feel trapped in it, unable to change the inevitability of the future. This sense of powerlessness can lead to anxiety, depression and risk-taking.
The ‘future-focused’ type. You are highly ambitious, focused on goals, and big on making ‘to do’ lists. You tend to feel a nagging sense of urgency that can create stress for yourself and those around you. Your investment in the future can come at the cost of close relationships and recreation time.

Your type can be determined by taking Zimbardo’s time perspective inventory. Click here to answer the 61 questions and get your results.

Watch this clip for more info about The Time Paradox: