The motivating function of thinking about the future: expectations versus fantasies

J Pers Soc Psychol. 2002 Nov;83(5):1198-212.


Two forms of thinking about the future are distinguished: expectations versus fantasies. Positive expectations (judging a desired future as likely) predicted high effort and successful performance, but the reverse was true for positive fantasies (experiencing one's thoughts and mental images about a desired future positively). Participants were graduates looking for a job (Study 1), students with a crush on a peer of the opposite sex (Study 2), undergraduates anticipating an exam (Study 3), and patients undergoing hip-replacement surgery (Study 4). Effort and performance were measured weeks or months (up to 2 years) after expectations and fantasies had been assessed. Implications for the self-regulation of effort and performance are discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Achievement
  • Adult
  • Fantasy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Judgment*
  • Love
  • Male
  • Motivation*
  • Self Efficacy
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Thinking*