Templeton Science of Prospection Awards Launch Leaders in Prospection Psychology

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Might the way we see be intimately linked to our imaginings of the future? Could memory be not a storehouse of past stories but a hope chest of possibilities? Can emotion offer guidance, or knowledge make predictions?

These are some of the questions addressed by the new science of Prospective Psychology, a field that aims to facilitate a change in the course of social science by moving prospection—our engagement with the future—to the center of research on human action. The program was established in 2012 by Dr. Martin Seligman, Director of the University of Pennsylvania Positive Psychology Center, and is supported by the John Templeton Foundation.

Last year, the Center launched a competition to find grantees of the Templeton Science of Prospection Awards. The 18 winning proposals—some collaborative, representing 29 researchers in all—have now been announced, and were selected from more than 250 submissions.

They include a team at the University of Colorado that will utilize a smartphone app to understand prospection from the perspectives of both brain and behavior. Another grant, awarded to a team from Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard University, will explore how we use visual imagery and speech to assess the future. “The winning projects will help us understand how to measure prospection, the mechanisms of prospection, applications of prospection, and how prospection can be improved,” Seligman says. For full information about Prospective Psychology and the awards, visit the project’s website.