Content analytic study of future time perspective in a clinical setting: Integration and continuity related to different levels of functioning  

Garami V., Jakabos H.
First author's affiliation: University of Pécs, Pécs, Hungary

Current research is aimed to study an important aspect of psychological time experience and future time perspective through content analytic method with implications to further use in clinical psychodiagnostics. Kurt Lewin defines time perspective as a basic component in human thinking and development. Thinking about the past and the future is strongly related to the sense of continuity, therefore the construction of identity. The sense of unity and integration in a personality is helped by cognitive processes of anticipating things into the future, planning, setting goals, etc. Future time perspective shows the level of a person’s reality testing, not only related to the sense of integration and continuity, but in recognizing the role of personal action in achieved outcomes, a disposition to make internal causal attributions. In the present study the subjects are psychiatry patients. The hypothesis of the study is that the content analytic coding of future time perspective – which is strongly related to effective self-regulation, cognitive control, and adequate sense of reality – shows definite differences between diagnostic groups determined by the level of the structural integration of the personality. The diagnosis is assessed according to the aspects of OPD-2 structural interview, with special emphasis on level of structural integration of the personality. The OPD-2 differentiates between four levels of personality integration (well integrated, medium, low, disintegrated). Besides the half-structured clinical interview, subjects are asked to write their „Future Autobiography”, which means they have to pretend looking back on their life from a point 20 years later. Content analytic method is used to code the various aspects of future time perspective, for example: preparation and planning, goal setting, internal causal attributions. Analysing different patterns of future time perspective could help in gaining aspects to the differential diagnosis of the structural level of functioning of the personality.