What day is today? A social-psychological investigation into the process of time orientation


  • Jonas Kai J.
  • Huguet Pascal

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Social-psychological research on time has pointed to the social construct of time rather than a mere physical entity that we reflect cognitively. Using two paradigms (day retrieval process and goal priming), the authors show that the time orientation is strongly prone to social influences and argue that a self-regulatory process underlies these findings. The degree of social comparison orientation in Study 1 and the degree of identification with groups for which the landmark is relevant (Study 2) both moderate the functionality of the landmarks within time orientation. Consistent with these findings, Studies 3 and 4 offer evidence that the activation of a personally relevant goal activates the day of goal attainment, a process that again can be moderated by social comparison orientation and identification. Overall, these results suggest a socially regulated time orientation. The internal clock (if any) is at least partly a ``social clock.''.

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