Episodic Future Thought: Remembering the Past to Imagine the Future

Authored by: Karl K. Szpunar , Kathleen B. McDermott

Handbook of Imagination and Mental Simulation

Print publication date:  December  2008
Online publication date:  September  2012

Print ISBN: 9781841698878
eBook ISBN: 9780203809846
Adobe ISBN: 9781136678103


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Imagine for a moment attending a party for next New Years' Eve. Take 10 s or so to generate a specific mental scene for this upcoming party. Chances are that you can “see” some pretty specific details: You can identify some of the guests, you envision clothes, and you can imagine a configuration of people intermingling in a specific setting—potentially one you know very well. How is it that we are able to envision the future in such a specific way? That question forms the topic of this chapter. Specifically, we examine the capacity for episodic future thought (Atance & O'Neill, 2001) and consider the possibility that recollection of the past is a fundamental component of envisioning the future.

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