Book Chapter

With the future in mind: towards a comprehensive understanding of the evolution of future thinking



Martin-Ordas G (2016) With the future in mind: towards a comprehensive understanding of the evolution of future thinking. In: Michaelian K, Klein S & Szpunar K (eds.) Seeing the Future: Theoretical Perspectives on Future-Oriented Mental Time Travel. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 306-327.

The human mind often wanders forward in time to imagine what the future might be like (future-oriented cognition) and backward in time to remember personal events (episodic memory). Despite recent evidence, whether other animals—besides humans—can mentally travel in time is still the object of an arduous debate. In this chapter, the author critically reviews the theoretical and empirical assumptions behind this debate and questions the belief that the capacity for future-oriented cognition is uniquely human. The chapter concludes by arguing that the current view of the comparative research in future-oriented cognition is based on general theoretical constructs that are problematic, as well as on assumptions that have yet to be proved across different human populations. It calls for a broader theoretical and empirical approach in which not only cross-species studies but also cross-cultural studies are needed in order to understand future-oriented cognition.

future mental time travel; imagination; episodic memory; autonoetic consciousness; memory-evolution; memory development; memory clinical studies; self; subjective temporality; hippocampus

Publication date31/12/2016
PublisherOxford University Press
Publisher URL…93364?login=true
Place of publicationOxford

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Dr Gema Martin-Ordas

Dr Gema Martin-Ordas

Senior Lecturer, Psychology