Abstract: The human ability to travel mentally in time and to consider diverse future possibilities has increasingly become a topic of considerable research attention. Here I will review recent studies from our laboratory, examining the nature and development of foresight, from the essential capacity to conceive of alternatives, to strategic applications, such as deliberate practice aimed at shaping future skills. I maintain that complex prospection has been a prime mover in human evolution and is a key to understanding human dominance on the planet.
Bio: Thomas Suddendorf is a Professor of Psychology at the University of Queensland, Australia. He studies the development of mental capacities in young children and in nonhuman primates to answer fundamental questions about the nature and evolution of the human mind. He has received honors and distinctions for both his research and teaching, including awards from the Association for Psychological Science, the Australian Academy of Social Sciences, and the American Psychological Association. He has written over a hundred papers, including a 2007 article with Michael Corballis on “the evolution of foresight” that was recognized as one of the most highly cited in the field of neuroscience and behaviour. His book “THE GAP- The Science of What Separates Us from Other Animals” (NY: Basic books) has attracted outstanding reviews in scientific journals (e.g. Nature, Science) and more popular outlets alike (e.g. New Scientist, The Wall Street Journal).