A feeling for the future: How does agency in time metaphors relate to feelings?

Jill Taylor, Clare Wilson

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


Most cultures have metaphors for time that involve movement, for example, ‘time passes’. Although time is objectively measured,
it is subjectively understood, as we can perceive time as stationary, whereby we move towards future events, or we can perceive
ourselves as stationary, with time moving past us and events moving towards us. This paper reports a series of studies that first
examines whether people think about time in a metaphor-consistent manner (Study 1) and then explores the relationship between
‘time perspective’, level of perceived personal agency, and time representations (Study 2), the relationship between emotional
experiences and time representation (Study 3), and whether this relationship is bidirectional by manipulating either emotional
experiences (Study 4) or time representation (Study 5). Results provide bidirectional evidence for an ego-moving representation
of time, with happiness eliciting more agentic control, and evidence for a time-moving passivity associated with emotional
experiences of anxiety and depression. This bidirectional relationship suggests that our representation of time is malleable,
and therefore, current emotional experiences may change through modification of time representations.


ConferenceFirst International Conference on Time Perspective
Period5/09/12 → …
Internet address


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