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Time perspective, personality and smoking, body mass, and physical activity: An empirical study


Correspondence should be addressed to Dr Jean Adams, Institute of Health and Society, William Leech Building, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE2 4HH, UK (e-mail:


Objectives. Time perspective describes how individuals conceptualize and value future events, and may be related to health behaviours. Research to date has focused on addictive behaviours, used a variety of different measures of time perspective, and not explored the role of personality. This work aimed to: explore the relationships between: five previously used measures of time perspective; time perspective and the broad domains of the five-factor model of personality; and time perspective and smoking, body mass, and physical activity after controlling for socio-demographics and personality.

Design. Cross-sectional self-report data were collected using a web based survey.

Methods. Participants (N=423) were recruited via local community internet message boards in US urban areas. The survey collected information on: delay discount rate, the Consideration of Future Consequences Scale (CFCS), the future scale of the Zimbardo Time Perspective Inventory (ZTPI), subjective probability of living to age 75, and time period for financial planning, the five-factor personality inventory, smoking, body mass index (BMI), and physical activity.

Results. After controlling for socio-demographics, most markers of time perspective were significantly correlated with each other, but the strength of correlations was rarely strong. Conscientiousness, Neuroticism, Agreeableness, and Openness were associated with some markers of time perspective. After controlling for socio-demographic and personality domains, only CFCS score was associated with smoking status and BMI.

Conclusions. There is some overlap between previously used markers of time perspective and the five-factor personality domains but this is neither strong nor consistent. Smoking and BMI, but not physical activity, are associated with CFCS, but not other measures of time perspective.