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  Promoting farsighted decisions via episodic future thinking: A meta-analysis

Rösch, S., Stramaccia, D., & Benoit, R. G. (2021). Promoting farsighted decisions via episodic future thinking: A meta-analysis. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General. doi:10.1037/xge0001148.

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 Creators:
Rösch, Sarah1, Author              
Stramaccia, Davide1, Author              
Benoit, Roland G.1, Author              
Affiliations:
1Max Planck Research Group Adaptive Memory, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society, ou_2295691              

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 Abstract: Episodic future thinking (EFT) denotes our capacity to imagine prospective events. It has been suggested to promote farsighted decisions that entail a trade-off between short-term versus long-term gains. Here, we meta-analyze the evidence for the impact of EFT on such intertemporal choices that have monetary or health-relevant consequences. Across 174 effect sizes from 48 articles, a three-level model yielded a medium-sized effect of g = .44, 95% (CI) [.33, .55]. Notably, this analysis included a substantial number of unpublished experiments, and the effect remained significant following further adjustments for remaining publication bias. We exploited the observed heterogeneity to determine critical core components that moderate the impact of EFT. Specifically, the effect was stronger when the imagined events were positive, more vivid, and related to the delayed choice. We further obtained evidence for the contribution of the episodicity and future-orientedness of EFT. These results indicate that the impact of EFT cannot simply be accounted for by other modes of prospection (e.g., semantic future thinking). Of note, EFT had a greater impact in samples characterized by choice impulsivity (e.g., in obesity), suggesting that EFT can ameliorate maladaptive decision making. It may accordingly constitute a beneficial intervention for individuals who tend to make myopic decisions. Our analyses moreover indicated that the effect is unlikely to merely reflect demand characteristics. This meta-analysis highlights the potential of EFT in promoting long-term goals, a finding that extends from the laboratory to real-life decisions.

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Language(s): eng - English
 Dates: 2021-11-29
 Publication Status: Published online
 Pages: -
 Publishing info: -
 Table of Contents: -
 Rev. Type: -
 Identifiers: DOI: 10.1037/xge0001148
Other: online ahead of print
PMID: 34843367
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Title: Journal of Experimental Psychology: General
Source Genre: Journal
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Publ. Info: Washington : American Psychological Association (PsycARTICLES)
Pages: - Volume / Issue: - Sequence Number: - Start / End Page: - Identifier: ISSN: 0096-3445
CoNE: https://pure.mpg.de/cone/journals/resource/954925466244