Tomorrow I’ll Be Me: The Effect of Time Perspective on the Activation of Idealistic Versus Pragmatic Selves

It is widely accepted that the self-system is dynamic and consists of multiple selves that emerge under different contexts. The present research describes two types of diverging self-conceptions, the idealistic and pragmatic selves. Building on a synthesis of construal level theory with research on the self, we propose that a more distal time perspective activates an idealistic versus a pragmatic self. Self-activation, in turn, influences the preference between two major motives: maximizing identity versus instrumental benefits. A series of five studies supported this conceptualization by demonstrating that: (a) distal rather than proximal time perspective enhances the preference for identity over instrumental benefits; (b) people construe themselves as relatively more idealistic than pragmatic when primed with a distal than proximal time perspective, and (c) self-activation mediates the effect of time perspective on preference. The studies also investigate boundary conditions and process measures that shed light on the interface between time, self, and preference. The final section discusses the theoretical implications for the literatures on construal level, self, and justice and the practical implications for organizational behavior, political psychology, and human decision-making.

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APA-Format Citation

Kivetz, Y., & Tyler, T. R. (2007). Tomorrow I’ll be me: The effect of time perspective on the activation of idealistic versus pragmatic selves. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes102(2), 193-211.