Comparing the Construction of Future Events with the Reconstruction of Past Events in Mental Time Travel Open Access

Jaganjac, Adna (2016)

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First proposed by Tulving in 1989, mental time travel refers to the movement of the self through time, encompassing the ability to both recreate past experiences and create expectations for future experiences (Suddendorf & Corballis, 1997). Drawing on the concept's relative novelty, the current study sought to further our understanding of how people might differentially represent these past and future events by examining the cognitive processes behind mental time travel using narrative writings and eye-tracking technology with the purpose of investigating the cognitive processes behind mental time travel. There is research that suggests that past and future events differ mainly by topic: future events are more likely to be based on a life script and consequently they are more likely to be positive events as well (Berntsen & Rubin, 2004). However, there is also literature suggesting that the differences between constructing past events and future events (in terms of the neural pathways used in both) are very minimal (Viard et al., 2010). Our findings support the latter statement: the narratives and eye-tracking were not significantly different between times frames, and the only difference occurred in the participants' self-report ratings. People consciously believe that past and future events are thought of in different ways. However, the way we write about them and the amount of effort we place in the construction of these events shows that this is not true. Future research should continue investigating new approaches to determine how the reconstruction of past events is related to the construction of future events.

Table of Contents

Introduction 1

Method 10

Participants 10

Materials and Measures 11

Procedure 13

Data Analysis 15

Results 15

Data Preparation 15

Task Performance 16

Narratives 16

Pupil Dilation 17

Subjective Ratings 18

Relations between Subsets 20

Gender 21

Discussion 21

References 29

Tables 32

Figures 37

Appendices 39

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