Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Faculty of Science

First Advisor

Roger Buehler

Advisor Role

Thesis Supervisor


Although people often make overly optimistic predictions of when their own projects will be completed, neutral observers tend to be more realistic. Study 1 examined whether people would make more accurate predictions for their own projects by adopting the visual perspective of an observer. Participants identified a personal project that they hoped to complete in the next two weeks, and predicted when it would be finished. To vary visual perspective, participants were instructed either to visualize the project through their own eyes as if it was actually occurring (first person perspective), to picture themselves and their surroundings as an observer would (third person perspective), or were not instructed to take a particular visual perspective (unspecified perspective). In addition, to vary the level of visualization, some participants were instructed to form highly detailed plans and scenarios whereas others were not. As hypothesized, participants were instructed tto form detailed plans had a tendency to form more realistic predictions of project completion time in the third person condition than in the first person condition. For the participants who were not instructed to form detailed plans, these effects of visual perspective did not occur. A second study, Study 2, was conducted to examine the perspectives people naturally take when thinking about a variety of future events, and some determinants of these perspectives. The participants reported only a slightly stronger tendency to take a first person perspective for the future events. In addition, a number of predictor variables were relatively unrelated to visual perspective. Theoretical and practical implications of findings for the two studies are discussed.

Convocation Year


Convocation Season