Prospection--the ability to represent what might happen in the future--is a broad concept that has been used to characterize a wide variety of future-oriented cognitions, including affective forecasting, prospective memory, temporal discounting, episodic simulation, and autobiographical planning. In this article, we propose a taxonomy of prospection to initiate the important and necessary process of teasing apart the various forms of future thinking that constitute the landscape of prospective cognition. The organizational framework that we propose delineates episodic and semantic forms of four modes of future thinking: simulation, prediction, intention, and planning. We show how this framework can be used to draw attention to the ways in which various modes of future thinking interact with one another, generate new questions about prospective cognition, and illuminate our understanding of disorders of future thinking. We conclude by considering basic cognitive processes that give rise to prospective cognitions, cognitive operations and emotional/motivational states relevant to future-oriented cognition, and the possible role of procedural or motor systems in future-oriented behavior.
Keywords: intention; planning; prediction; prospection; simulation.