Feeling Closer to the Future Self and Doing Better: Temporal Psychological Mechanisms Underlying Academic Performance

Robert Mark Adelman, Sarah D. Herrmann, Jessica E. Bodford, Joseph E. Barbour, Oliver Graudejus, Morris A. Okun, Sau Kwan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


This research examined the function of future self-continuity and its potential downstream consequences for academic performance through relations with other temporal psychological factors and self-control. We also addressed the influence of cultural factors by testing whether these relations differed by college generation status. Undergraduate students enrolled at a large public university participated in two studies (Study 1: N = 119, Mage = 20.55, 56.4% women; Study 2: N = 403, Mage = 19.83, 58.3% women) in which they completed measures of temporal psychological factors and psychological resources. In Study 2, we also obtained academic records to link responses to academic performance. Future self-continuity predicted subsequent academic performance and was related positively to future focus, negatively to present focus, and positively to self-control. Additionally, the relation between future focus and self-control was stronger for continuing-generation college students than first-generation college students. Future self-continuity plays a pivotal role in academic contexts. Findings suggest that it may have positive downstream consequences on academic achievement by directing attention away from the present and toward the future, which promotes self-control. Further, the strategy of focusing on the future may be effective in promoting self-control only for certain cultural groups.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)398-408
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of personality
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology


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