Time perspective and motivation in interpersonal contexts
Matsuko Kashio, Department of Health Psychology, Faculty of Human Science, Osaka University of Human Sciences, Shoya, Settsu 566-0012, Japan. (E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org)
This study investigated the relations between motivation and time perspective in interpersonal contexts. The participants were 327 university and nursing school students, who completed a questionnaire regarding achievement motivation, social support, responsibility toward others, and time perspective. This study found the following: First, motivation toward self-fulfilling achievements was positively related to hope, goal pursuit, and fulfillment in the present. In contrast, motivation toward competing achievement was negatively related to goal pursuit and fulfillment in the present. Second, emotional support was positively related to hope, goal pursuit, fulfillment in the present, and acceptance of the past. Third, a sense of responsibility toward others was negatively related to hope, but positively related to goal pursuit. These findings demonstrate the importance of motivation in an interpersonal context that determines all dimensions of time perspectives, namely the future, the present, and the past.
According to Lewin's definition, time perspective is “the totality of the individual's views of his psychological future and his psychological past existing at a given time” (Lewin, 1951, p. 75). An extensive amount of research on time perspective and its relations with different variables has been conducted since Lewin defined time perspective.
Human behavior is influenced by the perception of the future, which does not exist at the present moment. For example, when a student prepares for an examination, the examination does not exist at the time when he or she studies (Shirai, 1995b). If the student desires to succeed academically or to not lose in a future competition with others, he or she may strategize and make every effort to succeed.
Nuttin (1964) studied the relation between time perspective and motivation and pointed out that the psychological future is essentially related to motivation. What motivates people is future time perspective (Nuttin, 1964). Future time perspective is also referred to as future orientation, and it motivates the present behavior. Nuttin emphasized means-ends relationships: the present behavior is a way to accomplish a certain objective (Shirai, 1995b).
Gjesme (1979) examined the relation between achievement motivation and time perspective for elementary school students. Children with high achievement motivation exhibited a future orientation. People with high achievement motivation had a different time perspective in comparison with those with low motivation. Achievement motivation is the motivation to accomplish difficult tasks, beat others in a competition, and receive social recognition.
However, human behavior is not always motivated by future objectives (Shirai, 1995b). Future research should focus on a time perspective that values the present while considering the future and the past. Future research should also include collaborative achievement motivation as well as motivation that values human existence. Shirai (1995a) focused on the negative aspects of a future-oriented life, in which the present is only a means for one's future life. In other words, this type of future-oriented life segments time, and any moment becomes “now,” which results in a loss of time perspective. This indicates the importance of focusing not only on the future but also on the present. This allows us to redefine perspectives that deem future orientation only as positive, lending weight to the importance of breaking the spell of means-ends relationships and the rehabilitation of “the present as a site for carrying out one's life” in modern society. This study started from the awareness that, when considering how people spend time in the present, there was a need for research on time perspective with interpersonal relationships.
Discussions on this subject emphasize the importance of focusing on one's perspectives on not only the future, but also the present and past. From this standpoint, researchers have recently begun addressing perspectives on all these three time aspects. For example, a study of the present by Uezono (2004) focuses on time perspective. In regards to the study of the past, Yamaguchi (1996), for example, focuses on perspectives and reminiscence.
People with self-fulfilling achievement motivation do not base their success on comparisons with others (Horino, 1987). They are motivated to grow and feel fulfilled (Horino, 1987). In contrast, people with competing achievement motivation desire to better themselves by beating others in a competition.
How are those who show a self-fulfilling achievement motivation characterized? According to Horino (1987), people who showed a self-fulfilling achievement motivation pointed out that they were similar in their personality traits to those persons who attained self-actualization. That is, they think self growth is most important. However, it is not gained by beating others, unlike those who show competitive motivation. Rather, while such a person was warmly concerned with others, it was found out that they are also people who try to pursue their own passion.
Thus, along with future hope and a goal, the present sense of fulfillment is probably also shown. Those who show a self-fulfilling achievement motivation guess that hope and a goal are probably shown and the present sense of fulfillment is shown. This is the first hypothesis (Hypothesis 1).
This hypothesis and related research have been studied by Takashima (1997). Takashima examined the relation between time perspective and Horino's (1987) achievement motivation using Shirai's scale, which measured three aspects of time, past, present, and future (Shirai, 1994, 1997a,b), and demonstrated significant positive correlations between the subscales of time perspective and self-fulfilling achievement motivation. According to the results of a study conducted by Takashima, people who were motivated by self-fulfilling achievement tended to be hopeful and engaged in goal pursuit, and tended to feel fulfilled in the present. In contrast, competing achievement motivation was found to be unrelated to any of the subdimensions. These results suggest that the factor that enables people to transition into the future comes from a self-fulfilling achievement motivation, rather than a competing achievement motivation.
Takashima (1997) found that the competing achievement motivation is unrelated to any of the subscales. Supposing that showing a self-fulfilling achievement motivation builds a warm relation with others and does not eliminate others as its basis, conversely, it can be imagined that it is difficult to have a warm relation with a competitive achievement motivation. Moreover, the possibility that the future will become a means to an end rather than enriching the present and enjoying oneself is assumed to be stronger than for those who show a self-fullness achievement motivation. At its basis, those who show a self-fulfilling achievement motivation build a warm relation with others, and do not eliminate others. By contrast, it is noted that, because those who show a competitive achievement motivation win against others, it can be assumed that it is difficult to have a warm relation with others.
The following hypothesis was drawn based on the abovementioned viewpoint. People who are motivated by competing achievement are less hopeful, less goal pursuing, and feel less fulfilled in the present than their counterparts (Hypothesis 2).
Time perspective and interpersonal relationships
Does the nature of interpersonal relationships expand or promote time perspective?
Recent research on time perspective has addressed the importance of considering the presence of others and interpersonal relationships. For example, a person needs to have relationships with others in order to have time perspective (Nurmi, 2001; Shirai, 2001). By sharing time with others, adolescents may learn to become aware of themselves (self-formation) and to have multiple perspectives on others and society (Tsuzuki, 1999, 2004). People who have trusting interpersonal relationships may have a future time perspective (Higa & Okamoto, 2007).
Shirai (1997a,b, 2001) identified shared time as one function of time perspective. Sonoda (1996) focused on non-goal-directed time and interpersonal relationships that focus on the process rather than the results. Ohashi (2004) stated that it is undesirable to disregard interpersonal contexts in research on recollection and goals.
If there is a relation with a self-fulfilling achievement motivation and warm exchange with others that is significant to a time perspective as discussed in the above, a time perspective will also actually be able to be assumed from those who have received social support. Based on the afore-mentioned point then, the following hypothesis was advocated. People who are ready to acknowledge emotional support are more hopeful and goal pursuing, and feel more fulfilled in the present than their counterparts (Hypothesis 3).
As to research which shows compatibility with this hypothesis, there is only that by Nagayasu and Tagashira (2003) and Kashio (2000). Despite these researchers' efforts, little research on time perspective has been conducted about interpersonal relationships (Nagayasu & Tagashira, 2003). To address this problem, Nagayasu and Tagashira conducted a multiple regression analysis using Shirai's Experiential Time Perspective Scale. Time perspective was a dependent variable, and social support was an independent variable. The results indicated that those who strongly acknowledged instrumental support accepted the past. In addition, those who strongly acknowledged emotional support reported present fulfillment. Kashio's (2000) study examined the difference between those who show a present sense of fulfillment, and those who do not. The support of friends showed an influence, particularly on the present sense of fulfillment. As a result, this study assumes that people who are more ready to acknowledge instrumental support are more ready to accept their past (Hypothesis 4).
Social support can be divided into instrumental support and emotional support (Ura, 1992; Wada, 1995). Examples of instrumental support include a friend giving or lending money or items, or providing advice when a student struggles to pass a class. Emotional support is a type of support that helps people reduce their psychological stress and maintain and recover their self-esteem by empathetically listening to their concerns.
In addition to this attention to social support, it is assumed that the sense of social responsibility toward others is related to time perspectives. This study also examined the degree to which an individual feels the responsibility to support others. Social support is essentially the support provided by others. Responsibility, as defined in this study, is the psychological motivation that an individual actively has to relate to others; it is not one-way, but mutual. Responsibility may be derived from the acknowledgement of the others' support. When an individual is responsible, he or she pursues interpersonal relationships that are active (as opposed to passive) and mutual.
In this study the importance of the human trait of supporting others and being supported by others is emphasized. The purpose of this research has been to focus on interactions between the supported and those supporting. In order to study time perspectives in the context of interpersonal relationships, we need to move beyond focusing on the unilateral, and pay equal attention to interpersonal relationships from the view of both the supported and the supporting.
Nakaya (1996) conducted an insightful study focusing on such interactions, in particular on the personal awareness of the so-called social responsibility. Nakaya suggested that a social responsibility goal might possibly be a social factor that influences the behavior of children within their learning environment. A social responsibility goal, in this context, refers to the goal of maintaining smooth interpersonal relationships by respecting the norms and rules of classrooms.
Nakaya (1996) developed a social responsibility scale that comprised two subscales regarding compliance and prosocial goals. The compliance goal was defined as “the goal of respecting norms by observing explicit and implicit rules in the classroom,” while the “prosocial goal” was defined as “the goal to cooperate and support others in a social or interpersonal context.” Questionnaire items related to the subscale of prosocial goals included descriptions such as the following: “Seeing anyone who is discouraged, I wish to console or encourage him or her” and “I would like to help my friends in trouble.” As shown in these examples, the questionnaire items used with the scale are designed to measure the readiness to support others or a sense of responsibility toward others.
Children who are aware of the social responsibility goal are found to behave responsibly in the classroom (Wentzel, 1991). They are likely to be accepted by teachers and friends because they respect the norms of the classroom and are ready to cooperate. In addition, it is evident that positive interactions with others contribute to the motivation to learn, which eventually results in better academic achievement (Nakaya, 1996). Recent studies have demonstrated that learning behaviors are enhanced by a sense of social responsibility (Nakaya, 1998).
If, based on this viewpoint, the child with a strong sense of responsibility helps people actively and, probably, is accepted by people. Although there is no statistical basis at present, it may be supported by the present research. In addition, it can be guessed that such a person is living a daily life with goals and hopes for the future. Moreover, according to the results of a study conducted by Shimano, Sugawara, and Ohnami (2003), a significant relation of prosocial behavior with a future time perspective is found. To better understand young people who will soon become members of society, it is meaningful to focus on their social reciprocity and study their time perspectives with attention to the variables related to their sense of responsibility. This is also important for the development of the study of time perspective.
From the viewpoint of sense of responsibility, an examination of the feeling of regret was included in this study. Regret is a negative emotion generated from counterfactual thinking (Kusumi, 2011). Counterfactual thinking is comparing the negative results of an individual's decisions with positive situations that are different from the present moment (e.g., a previous situation or a result from another decision: Kusumi, 2011). Individuals may feel more regretful when they had more direct control and personal responsibilities over a situation (Komiya, Watabe, & Kusumi, 2010). One function of interpersonal-harm regret in situations in which others are harmed is for individuals to effectively integrate into society by increasing their interpersonal sensitivity.
This research argues that having responsibilities toward others, such as a desire to provide support, open up the future. It is hypothesized that those who are more aware of responsibility are expected to be more hopeful and goal directed (Hypothesis 5).
This study aims to find how perspectives on the past, present, and future are differently or similarly connected to motivation, social support awareness, and sense of responsibility. Provided that there are differences, we aim to determine how and why such differences arise.
The following hypotheses were formulated considering the above discussions. Our study aims to provide support for these hypotheses:
- 1People who are motivated by self-fulfilling achievement are more hopeful and goal pursuing, and feel more fulfilled in the present than their counterparts.
- 2People who are motivated by competing achievement are less hopeful, less goal pursuing, and feel less fulfilled in the present than their counterparts.
- 3People who are ready to acknowledge emotional support are more hopeful and goal pursuing, and feel more fulfilled in the present than their counterparts.
- 4People who are ready to acknowledge instrumental support are more ready to accept their past than their counterparts.
- 5People who are aware of their responsibility toward others are more hopeful and goal pursuing than their counterparts.
The participants in this study were 327 students (68 men and 259 women) with an average age of 22.06 years (SD = 5.54 years). The men had an average age of 21.93 years (SD = 5.87 years) and the women an average age of 22.09 years. Of the participants, 137 were university students (48 men and 89 women) and 190 were nursing school students (20 men and 170 women). Among the nursing school students, some planned to become nurses and others to become midwives. The study was conducted from July to September 2010.
Questionnaires were distributed to students from Wakayama Prefectural Nursing School and students majoring in anthropology from the Kansai and Nagoya region who attended university. Students completed questionnaires in large groups after lectures and were given instructions by their professors. In regards to ethical considerations, responses were completed voluntarily and anonymously. It was noted on the questionnaires that collected data would be used only for research purposes.
Time perspective. Shirai's (1994) Experiential Time Perspective Scale was used. This scale is composed of the following four subscales: hope (e.g., I am confident of being able to manage my future; 4 items), goal pursuit (e.g., I have a general plan of my future life; 5 items), fulfillment (e.g., I feel that my life is meaningful; 5 items), and accepting the past (e.g., I can accept my past experiences; 4 items). Alpha coefficients showing internal consistency are .78 for hope and .87 for goal pursuit, which show a high reliability coefficient. Alpha coefficients for fulfillment and accepting the past are .76 and .67, respectively, denoting sufficient values. A 5-point rating scale is used to assess the emotional wisdom, ranging from “Do not agree” (1) to “Agree” (5).
Achievement motivation. Horino's (1987) Motivational Scale was used. This scale is composed of the following two subscales: self-fulfilling achievement motivation (e.g., I give my best effort even for difficult tasks; 13 items) and competing achievement motivation (e.g., I feel happy when I compete against others and win; 10 items). Alpha coefficients showing internal consistency are .85 for self-fulfilling achievement motivation, which shows a high reliability coefficient. Alpha coefficients for competing achievement motivation are .75, denoting sufficient values. A 7-point rating scale is used to assess the emotional wisdom, ranging from “Does not apply” (1) to “Applies very much” (7).
Social support. Wada's (1995) Social Support Scale was used. This scale is composed of the following two subscales: emotional support (e.g., I have someone who listens to me attentively; 9 items) and instrumental support (e.g., I have someone I play sports with (e.g., skiing, tennis); 6 items). Alpha coefficients showing internal consistency are .92 for emotional support, which shows a high reliability coefficient. Alpha coefficients for instrumental support are .73, denoting sufficient values. A 4-point rating scale is used to assess the emotional wisdom, ranging from “Does not apply” (1) to “Applies” (4).
Responsibility toward others. We created a 4-item scale to measure responsibility, which consisted of 4 questions (e.g., I have the responsibility for my friend's happiness; 4 items). The alpha coefficient for responsibility toward others was .62, which is denotes sufficient value. A 7-point rating scale is used to assess the emotional wisdom, ranging from “Does not apply” (1) to “Applies very much” (7).
The procedure for making the scale was as follows: First, some people freely described responsibilities in writing. Here, constructs were set, with responsibility and regret hypothesized in the same dimension. The types of items collected conformed to these constructs. In particular, students were given the following instructions: “What comes to mind when you hear the word ‘responsibility?’ Please write down anything that you feel about having responsibilities. What do you regret when you look back on your daily life or your life until now? Please write your thoughts below as they come to you. Please write one thing for responsibilities and one for regrets. There are no right or wrong answers. You can write down as many sentences as you like.” Then the descriptions were categorized using the KJ method. Regrets and responsibilities were sorted into categories. After the content validity was examined by several psychologists, 12 items were selected. Then, by referring to and following the example of Nakaya (1996), we selected four items to show the sense of responsibility toward others. Two psychologists independently reviewed these items to ensure their content validity, and obtained a high concordance rate of 92%. Thus, we checked the validity of the concept of the sense of responsibility. The items which constituted the variable about a sense of responsibility were: “I have the responsibility for my friend's happiness,”“I have experienced regret from not being able to help a friend,”“I want to help people in my community,” and “I don't want to take on something that is a nuisance, even for my friends.” They were combined and checked for the following point. As a result of calculating the correlation coefficient for these four items, the significant correlation coefficient was checked among all the items. Therefore, it was confirmed that they measured the same concept. In addition, a positive correlation with regret and a significant sense of responsibility to a friend was shown, and the item which measures the troublesome evasion of a friend showed a negative significant correlation coefficient with the other items.
Table 1 shows the means, standard deviations, and correlation coefficients for each variable.
Table 1. Means, standard deviations, and intercorrelations of study variables
| 1. Sexa||1.79||0.41||–|| || || || || || || || || || |
| 2. School classificationb||1.42||0.49||−.30***||–|| || || || || || || || || |
| 3. Self-fulfilling achievement motivation||5.27||0.80||.01||−.01||–|| || || || || || || || |
| 4. Competing achievement motivation||4.12||1.06||−.06||.12*||.04||–|| || || || || || || |
| 5. Emotional support||3.41||0.59||.28***||−.28***||.35***||−.13*||–|| || || || || || |
| 6. Instrumental support||2.92||0.93||.12*||−.09||.25***||−.10||.53***||–|| || || || || |
| 7. Responsibility toward others||4.97||0.99||.22***||−.16**||.62***||.09||.43***||.31***||–|| || || || |
| 8. Hope||3.06||0.51||.03||−.07||.28***||−.11*||.24***||.15**||.08||–|| || || |
| 9. Goal pursuit||3.38||0.96||.16**||−.54***||.37***||−.15**||.41***||.21***||.41***||.26***||–|| || |
|10. Fulfillment||3.08||0.90||.07||−.03||.31***||−.30***||.33***||.15**||.19***||.37***||.39***||–|| |
|11. Accepting the past||3.37||0.82||−.07||−.09||.10||−.14*||.22***||.17**||.03||.33***||.23***||.33***||–|
Motivation toward self-fulfilling achievements was positively related to time perspectives, excluding the dimension of accepting the past, while motivation toward a competing achievement was negatively related to all four dimensions of time perspectives. Both emotional and instrumental support were positively related to all four dimensions of time perspectives. A sense of responsibility toward others was positively related to goal pursuit and fulfillment. In addition, control variables were associated with one dimension of time perspectives. Sex was positively related to goal pursuit, but a school classification was related negatively to it: women showed more goal pursuit than men and the nursing school students showed more goal pursuit than the university students. It is also worth noting that the correlations between subscales for achievement motivation showed no significance. Those for social support were rather high at .53 (p < .001), and those for time perspectives ranged from a low .23 to a middle .39 (p < .001).
Examination of factors that determine time perspective
In this study, a multiple regression analysis of the research variables for the prediction of time perspective was performed. The independent variables were achievement motivation (self-fulfilling achievement motivation and competing achievement motivation), social support (emotional support and instrumental support), and responsibility toward others. In addition, the control variables were sex and school classification (university or nursing school).
Table 2 shows the results of the multiple regression analysis. The point without doubt of multicollinearity was checked also in each variable. First, to clarify the factors that influence hope, the same independent variables were used for the multiple regression analysis. As shown in Table 2, a significant positive standard partial regression coefficient was found for self-fulfilling achievement motivation (β = .36, p < .001) and emotional support (β = .18, p < .05). A significant negative standard partial regression coefficient was obtained for sense of responsibility (β = − .22, p < .01). Those who express a self-fulfilling achievement motivation and have emotional support tend to have hope. In contrast, those who were more aware of their responsibility for others were not more hopeful about the future.
Table 2. Regression of time perspective
|Self-fulfilling achievement motivation||.36***||.23***||.27***||.08|
|Competing achievement motivation||−.08||−.11*||−.30***||−.10|
|Responsibility toward others||−.22**||.17**||.09||−.09|
Second, to clarify the factors that define goal pursuit, partial regression coefficients were calculated using goal pursuit as a dependent variable. As shown in Table 2, significant positive scores were obtained for a self-fulfilling achievement motivation (β = .23, p < .001), emotional support (β = .14, p < .01), and sense of responsibility (β = .17, p < .01). Significant negative standard partial regression coefficients were obtained for school classification (β = − .48, p < .001) and competing achievement motivation (β = − .11, p < .05). Those who have a self-fulfilling achievement motivation, receive emotional support, feel a sense of responsibility, and belong to the school of nursing tended to have achieved a future time perspective. It was also found that nursing school students were more aware of their future goals than other university students.
Third, the factors influencing present fulfillment were a self-fulfilling achievement motivation (β = .27, p < .001), competing achievement (β = − .30, p < .001), and emotional support (β = .26, p < .001). Those who work toward self-growth, express a self-fulfilling achievement motivation, do not desire a competing achievement motivation, and are aware of emotional support tend to presently lead fulfilling lives.
Fourth, in regard to accepting the past, a significant positive standard partial regression coefficient was found with emotional support (β = .19, p < .01). A negative standard partial regression coefficient was found with sex (β = − .14, p < .05). Regarding accepting the past, people who were more ready to acknowledge emotional support (more men than women) were found to have a more positive view of their past.
The purpose of this research was to find how perspectives on the past, present, and future are differently or similarly connected to motivation, social support awareness, and sense of responsibility. Provided that there are differences, this research aimed to determine how and why such differences arise.
Discussion of factors that determine time perspective
First, motivation toward a self-fulfilling achievement and the acknowledgement of emotional support were found to have a positive significant correlation with hope. This result agrees with a view yielded from the study by Takashima (1997) on time perspectives and achievement motivation. People who demonstrated a self-fulfilling achievement motivation appeared to have many hopes and goals for the future. This study rendered similar results.
In contrast, how should we interpret the mutually conflicting relation between hope and sense of responsibility?
When beginning this study, we assumed that those who are more aware of responsibility would be more hopeful. However, the study results contradicted this expectation. That is, those who were less aware of responsibility were found to be more hopeful about the future. This finding contrasted with another finding from this study, that those who were more aware of responsibility were more goal directed. Why did the study yield two contrary results concerning these two aspects of one's perspectives on the future? The first finding suggests that those who are more aware of responsibility are less hopeful about the future. In contrast, the second finding suggests that a strong sense of responsibility toward not only themselves but also others leads them in their effort to move into the future. However, how can we interpret the fact that people who are more aware of responsibility are less hopeful?
One reason may be that those who are more aware of responsibility toward others are less able to be optimistic about the future. In this time of uncertainty, those who are more strongly aware of their responsibility toward others may be more easily overwhelmed by a feeling of insecurity about the future. This finding may agree with a psychological observation that those who have not made an effort to achieve specific goals are often unrealistically optimistic about the future.
In other words, the study results suggest that those who are less aware of responsibility are more hopeful about the future. In this study, we might also assume that those who are strongly aware of responsibility are more capable than others of foreseeing risks when considering the future. They should then also be capable of observing reality more calmly. In fact, the items used in evaluating one's sense of responsibility suggest that those who are more aware of responsibility also feel responsible for the happiness of their friends, maintain a wish to help their friends, and experience regret whenever they are unable to help. It is also assumed that they feel socially responsible to help those in the local vicinity if needed. Furthermore, it is assumed that they act on their own initiatives, are never reclusive, and have an open attitude toward society. Therefore, they probably cannot manage to be unrealistically hopeful.
Next, let us examine the variables concerning goal pursuit. Those who were more ready to acknowledge emotional support, more aware of responsibility toward others, and more motivated toward self-fulfilling achievement were found to be more goal pursuing. These results supported the hypothesis. It was also found that nursing school students were more aware of their future goals than other university or college students. This may be because most nursing school students had decided to become a nurse before entering school and are studying to become qualified. In contrast, many university and college students have not yet decided their future profession.
Another finding was that those who are less motivated toward competing achievement are more aware of their future goals. It appears that those with motivation toward self-fulfilling achievement and their interactions with others are more open to moving into the future. It suggests the importance of variables related to interpersonal relationships (how one supports others and is supported by others) as variables that explain one's perspectives on how one would like to be in the future. In other words, the study results seem to demonstrate that motivation toward self-fulfilling achievement, rather than competing achievement motivation, gives clear perspectives on the future.
This result indicates that people with a future time perspective exhibit emotional support recognition, responsibility, and motivation for self-growth. Thus, people who were motivated to connect with others show a future time perspective in reality. In other words, orientation toward the future is not caused by competition with others, but by thriving with others.
The results of this study seem to suggest the importance of a type of motivation that remained unaddressed by previous studies that focused on a motivation toward academic challenges and that toward winning competitions, for example, which used to be regarded as a positive motivation (Gjesme, 1979; Nuttin, 1964).
At the same time, the results of this study appear to confirm the view of Shirai (1995a,b), which focused on the negative aspects of an excessively competitive achievement lifestyle, in which one sacrifices today as a means to acquire authoritative status or respectability in the future. In future, we need to study the type of motivation that cannot be explained by previous motivation models. Motivations toward self-fulfilling achievement and emotional support have been identified as factors that positively influenced fulfillment in the present. People who strongly acknowledged emotional support reported present fulfillment (Nagayasu & Tagashira, 2003). This study rendered similar results.
People who receive social support are better adjusted than those who do not (Horino & Mori, 1991). The social support of friends increases the self-fulfilling achievement motivation, prevents reduction of motivation for academic study and college life in general, and improves psychological health (Fukuoka, 2007). Wada (1992) compared people with low support and those with high support and found that those with low support appeared to be lonelier. This result may indicate that a person who does not acknowledge emotional support from others instead hopes for his or her own promotion. Future research should also examine the relations between social support and loneliness, depression, maladjustment, and health. Self-fulfilling achievement motivation and emotional support defined fulfillment in the present study. The results implied that people who aspire to grow, do not focus on or strongly hope for promotion and success, and acknowledge emotional support live fully in the present.
The study gave us insight into the fulfillment in daily life experienced by those who are motivated toward a self-fulfilling achievement, rather than a competing achievement motivation, with the acknowledgement of emotional support from others. These people are not motivated to compete with others. The results of this study seem to suggest that those who are motivated toward a competing achievement motivation and who desire to excel and seek status in competition with others, cannot remain focused on the present moment because they take the present moment as something instrumental to their future achievement, and therefore cannot experience fulfillment during the present. Put differently, understanding the present and future solely as a means-ends relationship creates a situation in which the present becomes the means and therefore loses its significance as the site in which an individual leads his or her life (Shirai, 1995a).
Furthermore, the results of this study seem to suggest that people should avoid being distracted by the present moment so that they might find fulfillment in their present life. The results also demonstrated that being fulfilled today in one's life requires a high quality of relationships with others and a willingness to work for one's own fulfillment.
Regarding acceptance of the past, people who were more ready to acknowledge emotional support (more men than women) were found to have a more positive view of their past. In this study, it was hypothesized that emotional support can contribute to hope, goal pursuit, and fulfillment in the present. The study results demonstrated that emotional support contributed to all aspects of time perspectives, including acceptance of the past. Why does the man accept his own past? It is difficult to solve the reason in this research. The elucidation of the reason is suggested as a future research task.
Why did the sense of responsibility influence only the perspective of the future? Nakaya (1996) suggested that the sense of responsibility for others is related to prosocial behaviors. It is assumed that those who have a strong sense of responsibility are more aware of their own worthiness. We may assume that this produces in them goal pursuit as an orientation toward the future.
In addition, it is significant that, while emotional support is related to time perspective, no significant relation was recognized among any of the variables for instrumental support. A possible reason for this is that emotional connections through support rather than instrumental support influence time perspective. These results indicate that support for obtaining the necessary objects is not effective in promoting time perspective; rather, emotional connections with others and a strong awareness of the possibility of receiving their affection are effective. This result is supported by the knowledge that the affective support of the family influences the length and hope of a future time, as found by Nishiyama (2001).
In contrast, this result was not in agreement with the results of Nagayasu and Tagashira (2003). Why wasn't a significant relation with a future time perspective shown for instrumental support? Because, sometimes, receiving instrumental support may lower self-efficacy. However, the reason for this was left to future research tasks.
Following is a comparison of the study results with the hypotheses:
- 1People who are motivated by self-fulfilling achievement are more hopeful and goal pursuing and feel more fulfilled in the present than their counterparts.The results supported this hypothesis.
- 2People who are motivated by competing achievement are less hopeful, less goal pursuing, and feel less fulfilled in the present than their counterparts.The results supported this hypothesis. As for emotional support, a significant relation between all the aspects of the time perspective was found.
- 3People who are ready to acknowledge emotional support are more hopeful and goal pursuing, and feel more fulfilled in the present than their counterparts.The results did not support this hypothesis. Instrumental support was unrelated to any aspect of time perspective.
- 4People who are ready to acknowledge instrumental support are more ready to accept their past than their counterparts.The results did not support this hypothesis. Instrumental support was unrelated to any aspect of time perspectives.
- 5People who are aware of their responsibility toward others are more hopeful and goal pursuing than their counterparts.
This hypothesis was supported by the results regarding goal pursuit. However, the results for hope did not support the hypothesis and, in fact, showed the opposite result.
This suggests that it is not competition with others or the uncritical pursuit of position or promotion, but emotional support and affection from others, which opens up the future. The results also demonstrated that possessing a sense of responsibility in which one tries to support others is effective. This is beneficial in selecting one's future path.
Suggestions for practice drawn from this research
What is the significance of this research? What can be understood about time perspectives through this research? First, knowledge gained from this research will make it possible to offer suggestions to students who are worried about which path to take. Separating those who set goals and actually make plans to realize them and those who do not is a motive that aims at self-fulfillment. In addition, a sense of responsibility and receiving emotional support from others opens up future paths for young people. However, when using this knowledge for career guidance, uncritical competition with others and pursuing one's own success, promotion, or position without considering others is not effective in gaining future perspective.
In addition, focusing on interpersonal relationships that relate to not only future aspects but also present fulfillment or past acceptance will be beneficial if it is clarified that rich interpersonal relationships, not excessive competition, promote time perspective. The results of this research will thus be important in examining the existence of others in building one's future and the nature of interpersonal relationships. People should self-reflect to achieve academic success and master the necessary skills and abilities. However, it is also important to consider the existence of others who look out for them. By highlighting this point, the author hopes that this research will be useful to people in providing insight to the manner in which they lead their lives.
The limitations of this study and tasks for future studies include several items. First, this study examined only one aspect of time perspective. Future research should consider not only the experiential level but also the cognitive aspects, attitudes toward time, and the emotional level when examining motivation, social support, and responsibility. Second, there was a bias in sex. Among the 327 participants, 68 were men and 259 women. Thus, women participants outweighed men. Future research should consider sex bias. Third, the responsibility scale was still under exploration. The reliability coefficient showing internal consistency was .62, which denotes a sufficient value. In this study, I used four items regarding sense of responsibility. In the future, we expect to improve the internal relevance (i.e., the reliability) of the scale by increasing the number of items regarding sense of responsibility. In addition, the validity of this scale was insufficient. Future research should consider these limitations and examine the phenomena of time perspective more comprehensively beyond the relations between variables. Finally, this study clarified how the perspectives on the past, present, and future are differently or similarly connected to motivation, social support awareness, and sense of responsibility. As future challenges, we need to study the details of each aspect as well as those of the dynamic relationships among different aspects. Moreover, it is important to study the entire structure to determine whether the variables exist in a parallel or hierarchical relationship. This is the important issue that future research should challenge.