Balanced time perspective (BTP) describes a tendency to focus on past, present and future time horizons that fosters well-being and positive life outcomes. Deviation from the balanced time perspective is a widespread method to measure the balance, but it makes assumptions regarding levels of time perspectives constituting BTP. In the present research we aimed to test the assumptions regarding levels of time perspectives constituting BTP by testing associations between time perspectives and domains of well-being in four independent samples (

Time perspectives describe individuals’ views on the past, present, and future, which are relatively stable individual characteristics. Zimbardo and Boyd (

Recent studies have focused on the importance of the balanced time perspective (BTP), reflecting a harmony across different time orientations (

Researchers have proposed three methods to assess BTP based on the Zimbardo Time Perspective Inventory: a cut-off scores method (

The empirical levels are scores obtained by an individual in the Zimbardo Time Perspective Inventory (

The use of the above optimal values imposes quadratic associations between time perspectives and indicators of optimality (e.g., well-being), because individuals can score above (maximum = 5) or below (minimum = 1) the optimal values (

In the present paper, for the first time the optimal values will be determined through empirical tests indicating what levels of time perspectives are optimal for well-being, i.e., by considering both linear and quadratic models to check whether non-extreme values (e.g., ‘moderately high’) can indeed be the most optimal. After Boniwell and Zimbardo (

In the current investigation we analysed data from four independent samples. Sample 1 consisted of 232 participants (123 female and 109 male) with a mean age of 23.62 (SD = 3.80) ranging from 18 to 39; in sample 2 there were 219 subjects (160 female and 59 male) and their mean age was 21.22 (SD = 2.51; range 18–40); in sample 3 there were 276 subjects (137 female, 139 male) with a mean age of 25.13 (SD = 2.65; range: 18–49); and sample 4 consisted of 423 participants (217 female and 206 male) and their mean average age was 22.77 (SD = 3.53; range: 18–40).

In samples 1, 3, and 4, volunteer participants were recruited via publicly accessible social networking websites, and all volunteering adults were invited to take part in the studies. Participants completed a packet containing a variety of self-report questionnaires and laboratory tasks. Each participant was tested in the laboratory at the Faculty of Psychology, University of Warsaw, and was offered a small gift (worth approximately 10 USD) for taking part in the study. Sample 2 was recruited just before classes began at university, where participants were approached by pollsters. They volunteered in the study without remuneration. This study, including the consent process, was approved by the ethics committee of the Faculty of Psychology, University of Warsaw. Verbal informed consent with an information sheet was obtained from all participants, in order to assure complete anonymity. Participation was voluntary and participants were allowed to reject or withdraw at any point with no disadvantage to their treatment. The data of the study are available on a public repository (

Descriptive statistics of all variables from four samples.

Min | Max | α | |||
---|---|---|---|---|---|

Past Negative | 2.92 | .76 | 1.00 | 4.70 | .84 |

Past Positive | 3.40 | .60 | 1.00 | 4.78 | .66 |

Present Hedonism | 3.31 | .56 | 1.53 | 4.80 | .81 |

Present Fatalism | 2.43 | .68 | 1.11 | 4.78 | .78 |

Future | 3.56 | .60 | 2.00 | 4.92 | .79 |

Life Satisfaction | 22.60 | 5.87 | 5.00 | 35 | .85 |

Past Negative | 3.01 | .77 | 1.00 | 4.80 | .83 |

Past Positive | 3.43 | .53 | 1.44 | 4.56 | .54 |

Present Hedonism | 3.40 | .60 | 1.00 | 4.60 | .79 |

Present Fatalism | 2.52 | .60 | 1.00 | 4.11 | .67 |

Future | 3.50 | .64 | 1.00 | 4.77 | .80 |

Life Satisfaction | 21.97 | 5.52 | 8.00 | 35.00 | .80 |

Depression | 17.60 | 10.44 | 1.00 | 47.00 | .90 |

Past Negative | 3.10 | .88 | 1.00 | 5.00 | .86 |

Past Positive | 3.47 | .77 | 1.44 | 5.00 | .81 |

Present Hedonism | 3.40 | .66 | 1.00 | 5.00 | .86 |

Present Fatalism | 2.48 | .67 | 1.00 | 5.00 | .73 |

Future | 3.43 | .64 | 1.38 | 4.92 | .81 |

Positive Affect | 32.48 | 7.35 | 10.00 | 50.00 | .87 |

Negative Affect | 18.37 | 7.84 | 10.00 | 50.00 | .90 |

Past Negative | 2.98 | .77 | 1.20 | 4.80 | .83 |

Past Positive | 3.48 | .65 | 1.56 | 4.89 | .71 |

Present Hedonism | 3.47 | .57 | 1.73 | 4.93 | .82 |

Present Fatalism | 2.60 | .611 | 1.22 | 4.11 | .69 |

Future | 3.42 | .62 | 1.15 | 4.85 | .81 |

Energetic Arousal | 22.13 | 4.66 | 10.00 | 32.00 | .84 |

Tense Arousal | 16.86 | 4.10 | 8.00 | 30.00 | .78 |

Hedonic Tone | 22.99 | 4.92 | 10.00 | 32.00 | .91 |

At first, descriptive statistics (

In Table

Results of regression analyses: each time perspective was entered as predictor in step 1, followed by the squared time perspective score entered in step 2 and well-being indicators (Life satisfaction and Depression) as dependent variables.

Sample 1 ( |
Sample 2 ( |
||||||||||||
---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|

Life satisfaction | Life satisfaction | Depression | |||||||||||

Step | β | ^{2} adj |
Δ^{2} |
β | ^{2} adj |
Δ^{2} |
β | ^{2} adj |
Δ^{2} |
||||

1 | Intercept | 22.60 | .261 | .264** | 21.97 | .235 | .238** | 17.61 | .239 | .243** | |||

Past Negative | –3.98 | –.51** | –3.51 | –.49** | 6.71 | .49** | |||||||

2 | Intercept | 22.62 | .257 | .000 | 22.17 | .234 | .002 | 17.26 | .238 | .002 | |||

Past Negative | –3.98 | –.51** | –3.55 | –.49** | 6.78 | .50** | |||||||

Past Negative squared | –.03 | –.01 | –.34 | –.05 | .60 | .05 | |||||||

1 | Intercept | 22.84 | .004 | .008 | 21.97 | .023 | .028* | 17.61 | .042 | .042* | |||

Past Positive | 1.09 | .09 | 1.70 | .17* | –4.00 | –.21** | |||||||

2 | Intercept | 22.71 | .002 | .002 | 22.13 | .020 | .002 | 17.74 | .043 | .000 | |||

Past Positive | 1.47 | .12 | 1.54 | .15* | –4.14 | –.21** | |||||||

Past Positive squared | .73 | .06 | –.55 | –.04 | –.48 | –.02 | |||||||

1 | Intercept | 22.60 | .000 | .000 | 21.97 | .000 | .000 | 17.61 | .011 | .015 | |||

Present Hedonism | –.12 | –.01 | .20 | .02 | 2.16 | .12 | |||||||

2 | Intercept | 22.56 | –.001 | .000 | 22.05 | .000 | .001 | 17.40 | .007 | .001 | |||

Present Hedonism | –.11 | –.01 | .13 | .01 | 2.34 | .13 | |||||||

Present Hedonism squared | .13 | .01 | –.24 | –.03 | .60 | .04 | |||||||

1 | Intercept | 22.60 | .071 | .075** | 21.97 | .000 | .005 | 17.61 | .030 | .035* | |||

Present Fatalism | –2.38 | –.27** | –.63 | –.07 | .000 | .000 | 3.24 | .17* | |||||

2 | Intercept | 22.00 | .086 | .019* | 21.99 | 17.49 | .026 | .000 | |||||

Present Fatalism | –2.84 | –.33** | –.63 | –.07 | 3.25 | .19* | |||||||

Present Fatalism squared | 1.32 | .15* | .21 | .02 | .32 | .01 | |||||||

1 | Intercept | 22.87 | .022 | .026* | 21.97 | .016 | .020* | 17.61 | .004 | .009 | |||

Future | 2.05 | .16* | 1.22 | .14 | –1.52 | –.09 | |||||||

2 | Intercept | 22.65 | .021 | .004 | 22.02 | .011 | .000 | 17.98 | .002 | .003 | |||

Future | 2.27 | .18* | 1.12 | .14 | –1.73 | –.11 | |||||||

Future squared | 1.10 | .06 | –.11 | –.01 | –.91 | –.06 |

*

Results of regression analyses: each time perspective was entered as predictor in step 1, followed by the squared time perspective score entered in step 2 and well-being indicators (Positive affect and Negative affect) as dependent variables.

Sample 3 ( |
|||||||||
---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|

Positive affect | Negative affect | ||||||||

Step | β | ^{2} adj |
Δ^{2} |
β | ^{2} adj |
Δ^{2} |
|||

1 | Intercept | 32.48 | .005 | .008 | 18.37 | .138 | .141** | ||

Past Negative | –.76 | –.09 | 3.35 | .37** | |||||

2 | Intercept | 32.68 | .002 | .001 | 17.03 | .172 | .037** | ||

Past Negative | –.79 | –.10 | 3.56 | .40** | |||||

Past Negative squared | –.25 | –.03 | 1.74 | .20** | |||||

1 | Intercept | 32.48 | .054 | .057** | 18.37 | .025 | .025* | ||

Past Positive | 2.27 | .24** | –1.59 | –.16* | |||||

2 | Intercept | 32.66 | .051 | .001 | 18.23 | .025 | .000 | ||

Past Positive | 2.18 | .23** | –1.52 | –.15 | |||||

Past Positive squared | –.29 | –.03 | .24 | .02 | |||||

1 | Intercept | 32.48 | .080 | .083** | 18.37 | .026 | .029* | ||

Present Hedonism | 3.21 | .29** | 2.02 | .17* | |||||

2 | Intercept | 32.49 | .077 | .000 | 18.10 | .025 | .003 | ||

Present Hedonism | 3.20 | .29** | 2.11 | .18* | |||||

Present Hedonism squared | –.03 | .00 | .62 | .06 | |||||

1 | Intercept | 32.48 | .000 | .001 | 18.37 | .143 | .146** | ||

Present Fatalism | .22 | .02 | 4.46 | .38** | |||||

2 | Intercept | 32.61 | .000 | .000 | 17.27 | .181 | .040** | ||

Present Fatalism | .27 | .03 | 4.07 | .35** | |||||

Present Fatalism squared | –.28 | –.03 | 2.43 | .20** | |||||

1 | Intercept | 32.48 | .027 | .030** | 18.37 | .004 | .008 | ||

Future | 1.98 | .17* | –1.06 | –.09 | |||||

2 | Intercept | 32.25 | .025 | .002 | 18.83 | .007 | .006 | ||

Future | 2.13 | .19* | –1.36 | –.11 | |||||

Future squared | .558 | .04 | –1.13 | –.08 |

*

Results of regression analyses: each time perspective was entered as predictor in step 1, followed by the squared time perspective score entered in step 2 and well-being indicators (Energetic arousal, Tense arousal and Hedonic tone) as dependent variables.

Sample 4 ( |
|||||||||||||
---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|

Energetic arousal | Tense arousal | Hedonic tone | |||||||||||

Step | β | ^{2} adj |
Δ^{2} |
β | ^{2} adj |
Δ^{2} |
β | ^{2} adj |
Δ^{2} |
||||

1 | Intercept | 22.15 | .123 | .126** | 16.85 | .055 | .057** | 23.00 | .161 | .164** | |||

Past Negative | –2.15 | –.35** | 1.27 | .24** | –2.59 | –.40** | |||||||

2 | Intercept | 22.41 | .126 | .004 | 16.69 | .055 | .002 | 23.10 | .160 | .001 | |||

Past Negative | –2.13 | –.35** | 1.26 | .24** | –2.59 | –.40** | |||||||

Past Negative squared | –.44 | –.07 | .27 | .05 | –.17 | –.02 | |||||||

1 | Intercept | 22.14 | .017 | .019* | 16.86 | .012 | .014 | 23.00 | .043 | .045** | |||

Past Positive | 1.01 | .14* | –.74 | –.12 | 1.59 | .21** | |||||||

2 | Intercept | 22.18 | .015 | .000 | 16.86 | .009 | .000 | 23.05 | .041 | .000 | |||

Past Positive | .99 | .14* | –.74 | –.12 | 1.59 | .21** | |||||||

Past Positive squared | –.11 | –.01 | .03 | .00 | –.14 | –.02 | |||||||

1 | Intercept | 22.14 | .000 | .000 | 16.86 | .000 | .002 | 23.00 | .000 | .000 | |||

Present Hedonism | .16 | .02 | .30 | .04 | –.058 | –.01 | |||||||

2 | Intercept | 22.27 | .000 | .001 | 16.91 | .000 | .000 | 23.00 | .000 | .000 | |||

Present Hedonism | .14 | .02 | .30 | .04 | –.062 | –.01 | |||||||

Present Hedonism squared | –.40 | –.04 | –.17 | –.02 | –.11 | –.01 | |||||||

1 | Intercept | 22.15 | .049 | .051** | 16.85 | .055 | .057** | 23.00 | .068 | .070** | |||

Present Fatalism | –1.74 | –.23** | 1.60 | .24** | –2.16 | –.27** | |||||||

2 | Intercept | 22.30 | .048 | .002 | 16.60 | .058 | .005 | 23.19 | .068 | .002 | |||

Present Fatalism | –1.73 | –.23** | 1.60 | .24** | –2.53 | –.26** | |||||||

Present Fatalism squared | –.43 | –.04 | .69 | .07 | –.53 | –.05 | |||||||

1 | Intercept | 22.13 | .076 | .078** | 16.86 | .004 | .006 | 23.00 | .041 | .043** | |||

Future | 2.09 | .28** | –.53 | –.08 | 1.65 | .21** | |||||||

2 | Intercept | 22.27 | .075 | .002 | 16.86 | .002 | .000 | 22.77 | .042 | .003 | |||

Future | 201 | .27** | –.53 | –.08 | 1.78 | .22** | |||||||

Future squared | –.37 | –.04 | .00 | .00 | .53 | .06 |

*

PN was linearly related to indicators of well-being in eight out of nine models, where it explained from 5.7% (tense arousal) to 26.4% (life satisfaction) of variance, and in the eight models greater PN was linked to lower well-being (Tables

PP was related to indicators of well-being in seven out of nine linear models, which explained from 1.9% (energetic arousal; Table

PH was related to only two indicators of well-being out of nine linear models tested. Specifically, greater PH fostered more positive affect (8.3% of variance) and more negative affect (2.5% of variance; Table

PF was linearly related to indicators of well-being in seven out of nine models, which explained from 3.5% (depression; Table

F was related to indicators of well-being in six out of nine linear models, which explained from 2.0% (life satisfaction; Table

Summing up, the regression results show that linear associations between TPs and well-being are widespread, given that among nine models they appeared in eight models with PN, seven models with PP or PF, and six models with F, but only in two models with PH. Considering direction of linear associations, higher levels of PP and F and lower levels of PN and PF were associated with higher well-being. Ambiguous association appeared in the case of PH, as the results show that in sample 3 (no associations in other samples) higher levels of this TP are linked to high levels of both positive and negative affect.

As for the quadratic trend, it was irrelevant in case of all TPs except PF – the squared score of PF was statistically significant in sample 1, where it accounted for an additional 1.9% of the variance in life satisfaction (over 7.4% explained by the linear trend; Table

In the present paper we challenged the idea of the time perspective optimal values indicated by Zimbardo and Boyd (

The linear associations between PN and well-being found in our studies fit previous reports, whereas quadratic models have not been reported until now. For instance, Boniwell et al. (

Results showing that greater PP is linearly related to higher well-being are in line with previous reports showing linear associations between PP and indicators of well-being. For instance, Boniwell et al. (

Results regarding PH were ambiguous. Also, when looking at previous studies, it appears that associations of PH with well-being domains are inconsistent. For instance, in the study by Boniwell et al. (

The issue of adaptiveness of the PH dimension seems even more complicated if we look at its nomological network (see Stolarski, Fieulaine, & van Beek, 2015). The dimension proved to be associated with many prerequisites or correlates of well-being, but both in positive and negative directions. On the one hand, the list of PH correlates includes such adaptive features as curiosity (

The presented results indicate ambiguous outcomes regarding the nature of association between PH and well-being. Although quadratic association did not appear in our data considering a single well-being domain, there might be arguments to support an inverse U-shaped relationship when different domains are considered – i.e., positive affect and negative affect. To reveal the optimal value of PH maximising well-being in terms of positive affect and negative affect, one may find an intersection point of the two lines describing the two associations: PH – positive affect (standardised positive affect = –10.93 + 3.21*PH) vs PH – inversed negative affect (standardised inversed negative affect = 6.90 – 2.02*PH), which appears for 3.4 scores in PH. Nevertheless, given the ambiguous results also found in previous studies, it can be questioned whether an optimal value of PH exists at all.

Taking into account the nature of PH, it seems possible that PH is rather associated with hedonic than eudaimonic (see

The linear associations found in our studies correspond to previous reports. For example, Boniwell et al. (

Results on F are in line with previous reports showing linear associations between F and indicators of well-being, albeit, similarly to our findings, previous reports were less consistent regarding the predictive value of F for well-being. For instance, Boniwell et al. (

The presented study has several implications, but some limitations, as well. In light of our results, the optimal values for the DBTP should be revisited and changed into PN = 1, PP = 5, PF = 1, PH = 3.4, and F = 5 (values maximizing well-being), with careful consideration of whether to incorporate PH into the formula at all. The formula itself would then take the form of the Deviation from the Balanced Time Perspective – revisited (DBTP-r):

Given the obtained results and arguments presented in the above sections of the discussion, we consider DBTP-r as a more valid indicator of BTP and advise using it in future studies on the construct. Comparison of predictive power of DBTP versus DBTP-r for well-being indicates that DBTP-r indeed performs slightly better than DBTP (Table

Pearson correlations between indicators of well-being and deviation from the balanced time perspective in original (DBTP) and revisited (DBTP-r) form, and comparison (z) of correlation coefficients for DBTP and DBTP-r.

Sample 1 ( |
Sample 2 ( |
Sample 3 ( |
Sample 4 ( |
|||||
---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|

Life satisfaction | Life satisfaction | Depression | Positive affect | Negative affect | Energetic arousal | Tense arousal | Hedonic tone | |

DBTP | –.461*** | –.376*** | .318*** | –.236*** | .407*** | –.388*** | .267*** | –.415*** |

DBTP-r | –.540*** | –.418*** | .383*** | –.203*** | .431*** | –.402*** | .272*** | –.434*** |

4.267*** | 1.948* | 2.908** | –1.715* | 1.343 | 1.055 | .359 | 1.453 |

*

It should be noted that our recommendation is not the only proposed alteration of the classical DBTP formula. Recently, a revised DBTP version was proposed, taking into account the distinction between Future-Positive and Future-Negative (^{th} percentile). Our consideration did not refer to the DBTP-E as data used for the present analyses were collected using the 56-item version of the ZTPI, not the broadened, 64-item Swedish ZTPI. Therefore, future analyses should determine whether the extreme score (1) in the Future-Negative subscale would be more justified than the one proposed by Rönnlund and colleagues (1.8 points).

Future studies could also add to the DBTP-r’s validity by broadening its nomological network. In the present paper we focused on DBTP-r associations with various indicators of well-being, which was a natural choice taking into account both the initial conceptualisation of balanced time perspective (

Another future research pathway is related to answering the question about cultural specificity vs generality of the DBTP-r. Time perspective is a phenomenon studied all around the world, and the ZTPI has been adapted and applied in a variety of nations and cultures. In some cultures, however (e.g., Japan), certain problems with the scale have been identified (see

This work was supported from grants provided by Faculty of Psychology, University of Warsaw.

The authors have no competing interests to declare.