Time in the mind orients people in one of two directions. An inward orientation points to the present, contracting the scope of thought to immediate concerns. An outward orientation, in contrast, points away from the present to the past or the future, expanding the scope of thought to a wider consideration set. These oriented arrows need not solely be used for mental time travel, as a similar inward/outward orientation can apply to social distance, spatial distance, and probability. We review recent findings illuminated by this broad form distancing, as illustrated in how people learn from and compare themselves to others, before concluding with a discussion of how change necessarily transpires over time, providing opportunities for future research at the intersection of future thought and present behavior.
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