Monday, September 20, 2010

Time Perspective and Motivation

     Ones perspective of time is a crucial factor in motivation. The video link below illustrates social psychologist Philip Zimbardo's research on the relationship between culture and its effects on creating a "time perspective". Each time perspective (past, present, future) contain subcategories, for instance one who lives in the past can have pleasant or regretful memories. The present time perspective reflects a neglect for the future and can manifest as a hedonistic pursuit of instant gratification or as a passive sense of fate due to outer forces such as ones economic state or religious belief. Future orientation is based around avoiding temptations of the present and working towards a goal that one can trust on achieving. According to Zimbardo these time perspectives are reflected in ones culture, religion, and geographic location.
        Ones geographic location may effect time perspective with a tendency for cultures closer to the equator to be more present oriented while northern colder climates are more future oriented. Zimbardo gives an amusing example in which southern Italy is past/present oriented with an enjoyment of long meals and large families while northern Italy is future oriented even carrying their lunch in paper bags. I think this theory shows merit based on a review of northern cultures. The climate clearly influences time orientation and motivation when considering the development of the Americas with colder climate countries (Canada, United States, Argentina) progressing economically faster than the warmer climates countries(Brazil to Mexico). Colder climates require future orientation to survive while warmer climates are easier to live in without as strong of a need to plan for the future.
    A recent Newsweek article ranked the top countries in the world based on education, health, quality of life, economic dynamism, and political environment. A high ranking would indicate a country that is future oriented with a tendency to control present hedonistic tendencies. The top countries were located in northern and temperate climates including Finland, Switzerland, Sweden, Norway, and Canada.The higher ranking countries demonstrate that Zimbardo's theory on climate and time perspective may in fact be true.

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