Future Perfect or Future Shock?
Michael Smyth & Ingi Helgason, Edinburgh Napier University (UK)
“The ability to think about the future is a gift to humankind.”1
According to research, we think about the future more often than we think about the past.2
We think about the future for different reasons, some practical, such as making plans, and some emotional, perhaps to confront our fantasies and fears. However, research from psychology suggests that creating positive fantasies about idealised futures, instead of helping us to achieve our goals, actually drains our energy and lowers our success3. In this workshop we will examine this future-thinking behaviour and consider the purposes of speculation about imaginary futures. In particular we will contrast these with behaviours and feelings around thinking about the past and present.
Questions we’ll address
- How do anticipatory dreams, fantasies, anxieties or fears shape our actual futures?
- How does speculating about the future compare to musing on the past?
- How does this behaviour affect our psychological health as individuals, families, communities and societies?
- What kind of systems can we design to understand, reveal, or even change our thinking? Alternatively, can we change the future itself?
The outcomes of the workshop are unknown, as we cannot predict the future. However, we imagine and anticipate that we will produce articulations of these explorations in time-based media formats. Perhaps these might be movies, animations or narrative scenarios.
Oettingen, G., A. T. Sevincer and P. M. Gollwitzer, Eds. (2018). The Psychology of Thinking about the Future. New York, Guilford Press. ↩
Kappes, H. B. and G. Oettingen (2011). “Positive fantasies about idealized futures sap energy.” Journal of Experimental Social Psychology 47(4): pp 719-729. ↩