Inspiring Minds seeks to broaden awareness and impact of graduate student research, while enhancing transferable skills. Students were challenged to describe their research, scholarship or creative activity in 150 or fewer words to share with our community.

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Future thinking: between what we know and what we expect to happen

I study future event thinking: the ability to project the self forward in time to pre experience an event. Future event thinking is relevant for behaviour regulation and involves gathering information to anticipate future events. It also involves placing these events in a coherent autobiographical context to be perceived as likely occurrences. Since our futures are individual phenomena, I take a tailored approach to assess how people simulate future events, what details they use in the description, and the phenomenological experience. Thus far, my findings show that likely events are experienced as sensorily real and with a lot of details, but only if associated knowledge is available. If events are unknown but likely to happen, people can still simulate them, but in broad ways. These results may be of interest for the understanding of mental health issues associated with unfamiliar future-prolonged situations such as culture shock, immigration, or the COVID pandemic.

Claudia Morales Valiente
PhD candidate, Psychology
Faculty of Social Science - Western University

Ken McRae

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Claudia is a PhD student in the cognitive, developmental and brain science (CDBS) Psychology program. She is especially interested in future-oriented cognition, interactions between event-knowledge and autobiographical memory, and individual differences during the mental simulation of future scenarios. She received her MSc in Psychology in the same program in 2021. Claudia also has BSc in Psychology from the University of Havana, Cuba.

You can connect with Claudia via her website:

View Claudia’s work as it appears in the Inspiring Minds Digital Collection:

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