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Title: Explaining socioemotional selectivity theory with temporal and social discounting
Authors: Tsang, Ho Chung Scott (曾澔淙)
Department: Department of Applied Social Sciences
Issue Date: 2016
Course: SS4708 Research Project in Psychology
Programme: Bachelor of Social Sciences (Honours) in Psychology
Supervisor: Dr. Li, Kin Kit Ben
Notes: This paper is under embargo at City University of Hong Kong until April 2019.
Citation: Tsang, H. C. S. (2016). Explaining socioemotional selectivity theory with temporal and social discounting (Outstanding Academic Papers by Students (OAPS)). Retrieved from City University of Hong Kong, CityU Institutional Repository.
Abstract: Research on Socioemotional Selectivity Theory showed that the perception of remaining time until endings (e.g. death, graduation, emigration) affects motivations, emotion regulation, and cognitive processing. Specifically, as future time perspective shrinks, the motivation for emotion-related goals increases, as compared to knowledge-related goals. Another area of research on how temporal distance influences the subjective value of outcomes revealed that the present perceived value of a future outcome decreases as its temporal delay increases, which follows a hyperbolic curve. Integrating the two lines of research, the present study proposed that the motivational shifts related to change in future time perspective might be associated with a cost-benefit analysis of immediate and delayed outcomes. 74 Hong Kong residents participated in the current study. They completed a computerized administration of questionnaires and experimental conditions. They made series of choices between a shorter-sooner and a longer-later social interactions, with both emotion-related and knowledge-related social partners. Results indicated that social interactions with emotion-related social partners were discounted steeper than that with knowledge-related social partners. In addition, perceived social distance mediated the effect of types of social partners on delay discounting rates. Findings also showed that emotion-related social partners were valued more than knowledge-related social partners when both were delivered immediately (i.e. higher initial value). Taken together, these results suggest that future emotion-related outcomes might be valued more (compared to knowledge-related outcomes) in a limited future time perspective, and valued less as future time perspective expands. The current findings might help provide a novel perspective in explaining the association between the perception of time horizon and motivation, and the related changes in emotion regulation and cognitive processing.
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