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In psychology, prospection is the generation and evaluation of mental representations of possible futures. This ability fundamentally shapes human cognition, emotion, and motivation, and yet remains an understudied field of research, according to some psychologists.[1][2][3] Instead of a person's past fully determining their actions, prospective psychology seeks to make prospection the center of research.[2][4]

Martin Seligman played a leading role in starting the positive psychology movement, but noticed a deeper flaw in psychology: many psychologists seemed to portray humans as driven by the past.[5] Thus, Seligman and others are leading an initiative on the study of prospective psychology, which is open to not only psychologists and neuroscientists, but also philosophers. Peter Railton, Roy F. Baumeister, and Chandra Sripada also lead the prospective psychology research movement.[2][4] However, not all psychologists agree with Seligman and his colleagues that prospection has been neglected in the past psychological literature.[6] Prospection, in the form of anticipation, was a central part of George Kelly's personal construct theory, first published in 1955.[7]

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  1. ^ "Authentic Happiness: Prospective Psychology". University of Pennsylvania. Retrieved 13 August 2015. 
  2. ^ a b c Seligman, Martin E. P.; Railton, Peter; Baumeister, Roy F.; Sripada, Chandra (March 2013). "Navigating into the future or driven by the past" (PDF). Perspectives on Psychological Science. 8 (2): 119–141. doi:10.1177/1745691612474317. PMID 26172493. 
  3. ^ Seligman, Martin E. P.; Tierney, John (19 May 2017). "We Aren't Built to Live in the Moment". The New York Times. The New York Times Company. p. 1,6 Sunday Review. ISSN 0362-4331. OCLC 1645522. Retrieved 29 May 2017. The main purpose of emotions is to guide future behavior and moral judgments, according to researchers in a new field called prospective psychology. 
  4. ^ a b "Prospective Psychology". University of Pennsylvania. Retrieved 13 August 2015. 
  5. ^ Seligman, Martin E. P. "Prospecting the Future". YouTube. Adelaide Thinkers in Residence. Retrieved 13 August 2015. 
  6. ^ Fukukura, Jun; Helzer, Erik G.; Ferguson, Melissa J. (March 2013). "Prospection by any other name? A response to Seligman et al. (2013)" (PDF). Perspectives on Psychological Science. 8 (2): 146–150. doi:10.1177/1745691612474320. PMID 26172495. 
  7. ^ Kelly, George (1991) [1955]. The psychology of personal constructs. London; New York: Routledge in association with the Centre for Personal Construct Psychology. ISBN 0415037999. OCLC 21760190. 

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