Thursday, December 30, 2010

The RSA Animates Zimbardo's Talk on Time

The Royal Society for the Arts hosts many important speakers on a wide variety of talks.  Their new trick is to draw pictures on a whiteboard depicting the message of the speaker.  I have put up some other examples before.  In this talk, renowned psychologist, Philip Zimbardo describes the secret powers of time.  As humans, we have six different perspectives on time derived from our cultures and exemplified in our lives.

For instance, Protestants tend to be future-oriented.  Do good things now to be rewarded in heaven and don't do bad things so you don't go to hell.  In this tradition, we see school as a future-oriented endeavor.  Do well in school now, get into a good college, get a good job, and get into the best retirement home around.  But not everyone is future-oriented.  Present-oriented people may be intensely pleasure-seeking (hedonistic) or focusing on the here and now.  I have heard many sermons attacking the dangers of hedonism (usually misrepresenting atheism as necessarily hedonistic), and pushing the ideal of focusing on the future.

I wonder where else these divisions can be seen.  Are scientists future-oriented while historians past oriented?  Are liberals present- or future oriented while conservatives past-oriented?  Lots of strands come out of this talk, which makes it a good one.

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