Culture and Time Perception: Implications for Mental Representation and Decisions
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This thesis examines cultural variations in time perception, as well as the possible influences on mental representation and decisions. Building on prior research on cultural differences in time-related perceptions, two main time perceptions were identified and focused on, namely temporal orientation and the use of time metaphor. The temporal orientation line of investigation explores the implications of a stronger future versus past orientation among English and Mandarin-speakers respectively. Based on Construal Level Theory, temporal orientation is expected to be related to psychological distance, which in turn affects the mental representations individuals form. The findings supported a stronger future orientation among English-speakers which is also evident in their mental representations that vary as a function of temporal orientation. However, Mandarin-speakers exhibited neither a strong past nor future orientation. A study examining the possible influence of temporal orientation on value judgment revealed a complex association between culture and value judgment. The time metaphor line of inquiry investigates the use of time metaphors among English and Mandarin-speakers and also the possible implications of such tendencies. Although previous psychological research implies a possible connection between the use of time metaphor and sense of personal control, this relationship is yet to be established. The findings showed supportive evidence of a frequent use of ego and time-moving metaphors among English and Mandarin-speakers respectively. However, studies examining the relationship between the use of time metaphor, perceived personal control, and decisions (optimism bias and risk-taking) revealed little supportive evidence of an association between them. The findings and a range of methodological and theoretical implications are discussed in the closing chapter.
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