Time Periods

I have a theory that different time horizons are reasoned about in different ways. They could be broken up along a compounding scale:

The basic idea is that what is happening in the next five minutes is thought of in a different way than what will happen in the next day or the next year. These modes of thought aren’t natural, but develop as complexity of thought develops.

I’ve been thinking that this could well relate to the moral conceptualization models of Kohlberg. Kohlberg, in short, divides moral reasoning into different categories:

  • Pre-conventional: Young children who think in almost entirely egocentric terms.
  • Conventional: Contexts for behavior based primarily on the norms of society.
  • Principled: Contexts for behavior based on moral principles and reasoning.

If the ways that people reason about time go through transitions then decision making would grow more abstract (principled) as people gained strength conceptualizing further out. People who reason primarily on the short term effects are going to be focused on the social effects because that is what will affect their lives in the next week or month.

I’d like to do an experiment somehow to see how getting people to think about events in the future, maybe through a collaborative art project, would affect their reasoning.

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