Professor Roy Baumeister: Thinking about the future: Whether, when, why, how, who, what… and so what?

Theatre Q230, Level 2, Kwong Lee Dow Building Melbourne Graduate School of Education, 234 Queensberry St, University of Melbourne


An organised, future-oriented mindset is probably the most effective way to find success in life, but psychology has focused much more on the past than the future. Professor Baumeister will report ideas and findings emerging from his recent research program on thinking about the future. Despite the common assumption that people see the future as bright, laboratory experiments have found that contemplating the future leads to caution and in some cases pessimism. He will also detail revelations from a large data set on people’s thoughts as they go about their daily lives, including what they reveal about why, when, and how people think about the future, as well as what personality types that think about it more, and correlations and consequences.

Professor Baumeister will argue that predicting the future is difficult - but perhaps that is not the main part of people’s thoughts about the future. Instead, he will explore a theory of pragmatic prospection that shifts the emphasis away from “What is going to happen?” to “What do I want to happen?” and “How can I bring that about?”