Introduction to the special issue: The science of prospection

Roy F. Baumeister, Kathleen D. Vohs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Psychology's main theories explain human behavior by pointing to the past: childhood experiences, socialization, reinforcement history. Yet recent evidence has suggested that people do not spend much time actively thinking about the past. The articles in this special issue reflect a growing sentiment that prospection should be a central focus of psychology. They are about 2 central themes: prediction and pragmatic planning. Prediction studies are largely about when people make predictions and their accuracy (including what mistakes people make). Pragmatic planning, which from evolutionary standpoints might be the more common and basic form of thinking about the future, involves anticipating what a person will have to do, decide, perform. The 2 approaches are quite compatible: prediction in service of pragmatic adjustments would be highly adaptive. To accurately imagine what might happen is likely not an end to itself, because that alone does not enable a person to make changes or ready oneself for the event if and when it comes to fruition. The articles in this special issue-whether on prospection, prediction, pragmatic planning, or prediction in service of preparation and planning-suggest avenues to pave the way for psychology's brightest future.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-2
Number of pages2
JournalReview of General Psychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 American Psychological Association.


  • Future
  • Planning
  • Prediction
  • Prospection
  • Thinking


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