Thursday, August 4, 2022

Collective mental time travel: People have a more negative perception of the collective future than the personal future, maybe due to the press magnifying negative views

Collective mental time travel: Current research and future directions. Meymune N. Topcu, William Hirst. Progress in Brain Research, August 4 2022.

Abstract: In this chapter, we will provide a review on the emerging psychological literature on collective mental time travel (MTT). Our review will focus on the cognitive aspects of remembering the collective past and imagining the collective future. We will explore factors such as specificity, phenomenal characteristics, content, and valence. We will also include brief overviews of cultural and social psychological research that is relevant to the topic of collective MTT. In these overviews, we will examine the research on narratives, collective continuity, collective angst, and human action. Three main themes will emerge from these discussions: the connection between collective past and future thinking, the differences between collective past and future thinking, and the role of goals, perceived agency, and collective action. We will integrate the findings of cognitive, cultural, and social psychological work through these three themes and offer ways to move collective MTT research forward.

Keywords: Collective memoryCollective future thinkingMental time travelValencePerceived agencyGoalsNarrativesCollective continuityCollective action

people have a more negative perception of the collective future than the personal, maybe due to the press magnifying negative views

Check also: Topcu, M. N., & Hirst, W. (2020). Remembering a nation’s past to imagine its future: The role of event specificity, phenomenology, valence, and perceived agency. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 46(3), 563–579.

Abstract: People are routinely involved in remembering the national past and imagining the national future, especially when making political decisions. These processes, however, have not been explored extensively. The present research aims to address this lacuna. In 2 experiments (N = 203), participants were asked to remember and imagine events that involve the United States. Later, they rated these events in terms of phenomenal characteristics, valence, and perceived agency (circumstance, self, other-people, nation). Their responses were also coded for specificity and content. Past and future responses correlated for specificity, phenomenology, valence, and the four domains of perceived agency. Despite this strong correspondence between past and future thinking, there were also differences. Future responses were less specific and more positive than past responses. Moreover, people thought that they themselves and their nation will have more control over their nation’s future compared with the control they attributed to themselves and their nation over its past. The bias to be more optimistic about the nation’s future was partly explained by this tendency to see the nation as more agentic in the future. Taken together, these results reveal striking similarities and divergences between autobiographical and collective mental time travel. The present research provides an exploration for the newly emerging field of collective mental time travel. 

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