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The perception of time (the use of temporal categories to conceptualize experiences) affects human behavior. Students’ time perspective predicts academic outcomes: those with future orientations tend to have better academic outcomes than those with past or present, according to Zimbardo and Boyd’s psychology of time model, and may contribute to the 80% attrition rate of emergent online distance learning programs. However, their model is limited because of the exclusion of certain variables that may influence the development and maintenance of time perspective. Zimbardo and Boyd’s model claims that time perspective continually develops and changes but does not explain which variables or aspects of structure and discipline affect time perspective or its plasticity. This nonexperimental quantitative survey study was designed to ascertain whether emotional intelligence, attachment style, and resilience predicted time perspective, since each of these variables has been shown to influence behavior and relate to time perspective. Participants were 93 distance learning doctoral candidates from universities with an online format. Data gathered online from the Zimbardo Time Perception Inventory, Resilience Scale, Psychosocial Maturity Inventory, Revised Adult Attachment Scale, and a demographic questionnaire were analyzed using step-wise logistic regression analyses. Future time perspective was predicted by resilience, independent attachment style, dissertation phase, marital status (married), and gender (male). Present-hedonistic time perspective was predicted by low emotional intelligence, and dissertation phase. Present-fatalistic time perspective was predicted by low emotional intelligence. Past-positive time perspective was predicted by low anxiety attachment scores. Past-negative time perspective was predicted by an anxiety attachment style and high emotional intelligence. Results advanced Zimbaro and Boyd’s theory of time perspective by identifying these variables as predictors of time perspective and how they worked together to influence time perspective. The presence of predictors indicated that previous research was incomplete in its explanation of the relationship between time perspectives and human behaviors, such as academic achievement, because of the contribution of emotional intelligence, resilience, and attachment style to time perspective. Results also indicated the need to include these variables in prediction models of attrition rates of online doctoral programs.

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Originally published in Psychology Research, 6, 109-207. Licensed under CC BY-NC 4.0. doi:10.17265/2159-5542/2016.03.001



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