Master of Arts (MA)
Faculty of Science
Accurate project completion estimates are part of successful project completion. Thus, it is important to identify factors that reduce the tendency to make overly optimistic project completion predictions (Buehler et al., 2002). This research investigated the effect of temporal distance on project completion predictions. A review of past research provided evidence that could lead to a prediction of either increased or decreased optimism with increasing temporal distance. In a first study, participants predicted the completion date of a hypothetical school assignment that would begin either tomorrow (close future) and next term (distant future). Participants predicted to complete the project earlier in the close than in the distant condition. This relation was mediated by concreteness of thoughts about the project, as participants thought more concretely about close projects and made more optimistic predictions when thinking concretely about the project. In a second study, participants predicted the completion time of an essay task they would receive either the day after their prediction (close future) or two weeks later (distant future). Again, concreteness of thoughts about the project mediated the effect of temporal distance on the optimism of predictions. Additionally, participants were more likely to focus on possible problems in the close future condition than in the distant future condition than in the distant future condition and made less optimistic predictions if thinking about possible problems. Thus, temporal proximity increased two thought processes that had opposite effects on predictions: Concrete thoughts increased optimism whereas a focus on problems decreased optimism. When both mediators were present, they appeared to cancel out a direct effect of temporal distance on prediction optimism. Possible moderators that may enhance one mediation path over the other are discussed.
Peetz, Johanna, "Planning for the close and distant future: The impact of temporal distance on task completion prediction" (2006). Theses and Dissertations (Comprehensive). 793.