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Conceptualization and measurement of temporal focus: the subjective experience of the past, present, and future

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article


  • Abbie J. Shipp
  • Jeffrey R. Edwards
  • Lisa Schurer Lambert
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>09/2009
<mark>Journal</mark>Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes
Issue number1
Number of pages22
Pages (from-to)1-22
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Temporal focus is the attention individuals devote to thinking about the past, present, and future, and the concept is important because it affects how people incorporate perceptions about past experiences, current situations, and future expectations into their attitudes, cognitions, and behavior. However, temporal focus has not been clearly defined nor situated in a nomological network of constructs. In addition, existing measures of temporal focus suffer from various shortcomings. In this paper, we advance the concept of temporal focus by critically examining its conceptualization, developing a new measure of temporal focus (Temporal Focus Scale; TFS), and evaluating the validity (i.e., construct, convergent, discriminant, nomological, and predictive validity) of the TFS across four studies. We conclude that understanding how individuals focus their attention toward the past, present, and future clarifies their responses to explicit and implicit temporal information, which suggests that a variety of research streams would benefit from incorporating the concept of temporal focus.