Vakgroep Psychologie, Gezondheid & Technologie

Making sense of future thought

Supplementary info:

Type of assignment: Msc
Internal– or external: Internal
How many students possible: 2
New data collection: Yes
Type of research: Qualitative analysis
EC: 15 EC



Anticipatory processes such as planning, orienting, goal-setting, and imagining what will, could or should happen are part and parcel of human existence. These processes enabled our ancestors to prepare for winter, are the basis of scientific inventions, and help us steer our daily lives. Think for example about planning what to wear to a party, orienting what career you want to pursue, or dreaming about the love of your life. While neuropsychologists would be interested in the brain processes underlying anticipatory processes, narrative psychologists are interested in which interpretive processes are involved in future thought. For example, when a person looks ahead at a future event like starting a family, it may make sense for one person to name the expected children, while for another too much detail would feel uncomfortable and food for disappointment when the imagined future does not happen in the envisioned way.

In this assignment, you will explore the sense making processes involved in anticipatory processes measured using the Letter from the Future instrument. This is a written exercise where people imagine travelling to the future and writing back from that future a letter to their present self. You will recruit 4 students (or another respondent group if so preferred). You will ask them to write a Letter from the Future, and consequently interview them about their rationale behind writing this particular letter in this particular way. You will analyze the interviews using thematic comparative analysis and/or storyline analysis. Your analysis will be input for a new research project aimed at helping young adolescents to make sense of their future.



Anneke Sools



Sools, A. M., & Mooren, J. H. (2012). Towards Narrative Futuring in Psychology. Graduate Journal of Social Science, 9(2), 206.

Sools, A. M., Tromp, T., & Mooren, J. H. (2015). Mapping letters from the future: Exploring narrative processes of imagining the future. Journal of Health Psychology, 20(3).

Sools, A., Triliva, S., & Filippas, T. (2017). The role of desired future selves in the creation of new experience: The case of Greek unemployed young adults. Style, 51(3).