Looking to the future to Appreciate the Present The Benefits of Perceived Temporal Scarcity

Kurtz, Jaime L., Department of Psychology, University of Virginia
Wilson, Timothy, Department of Psychology, University of Virginia

Savoring is an effortful process that involves attending to and drawing positive thoughts and feelings from pleasant stimuli. Both empirical psychological research and conventional wisdom suggest that, on the whole, people savor far too infrequently. This dissertation examines one type of experience that is thought to promote savoring: a bittersweet experience. These experiences are thought to occur when the ending of a positive experience is made salient. In a series of three studies, a temporary distance manipulation was used to make college graduation seem more or less bittersweet. College students were told to express gratitude for aspects of college life, with graduation being framed as either very close or very far off. Although the results were not entirely consistent across studies, those who were thinking that graduation is very close showed increases in subjective well-being and appreciation of college life, and did more collegerelated behaviors (e.g., spending time with friends, taking scenic routes to class, etc.) relative to those who were thinking that graduation was far off, and to controls. The present studies provide some support for the idea of temporal scarcity as a trigger of the savoring process.

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PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
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