Connected to a Better Me and Ignoring You: The Role of Future Self-Connectedness in Social Comparison and Temporal Self-Comparison Processes

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Individuals differ in the extent to which they feel connected to their future selves, which predicts time preference (i.e., preference for immediate versus delayed utility), financial decision-making, delinquency, and academic

Individuals differ in the extent to which they feel connected to their future selves, which predicts time preference (i.e., preference for immediate versus delayed utility), financial decision-making, delinquency, and academic performance. Future self-connectedness may also predict how individuals compare themselves with their past selves, future selves, and other people. Greater connectedness may lead to more self-affirming types of temporal self-comparison, less self-deflating types of temporal self-comparison, and less social comparison. Two studies examined the relation between future self-connectedness and comparison processes, as well as effects on emotion, psychological adjustment, and motivation. In the first study, as expected, future self-connectedness positively predicted self-affirming temporal self-comparison and negatively predicted self-deflating temporal self-comparison and social comparison. In addition, future self-connectedness had beneficial direct and indirect effects on adjustment, emotion regulation, and motivation. Unlike previous research, this study examined all three components of future self-connectedness, as opposed to only one. Exploratory analyses examined the items comprising the similarity-connectedness component and found that the relation of these items to the other variables in the model did not differ, though some of the relations in the model were moderated by college generation status. The second study tested whether increasing future self-connectedness would have similar effects on comparison, adjustment, emotion, and motivation. It implemented a pilot future self-connectedness manipulation, an established identity-stability manipulation, and a control condition. The pilot manipulation and identity-stability manipulation failed to affect future self-connectedness relative to control, and did not affect comparison, motivation, adjustment, or emotion. Future research should ascertain whether there is a causal link between connectedness and social comparison or temporal self-comparison processes. Overall, this research links future self-connectedness to social comparison and temporal self-comparison processes, as well as well-being, emotion, and motivation, which demonstrates the importance of connectedness in new, important areas.