CP Time. Racial Ideology and Time Orientation Among African Americans

Doctoral Thesis / Dissertation, 2011

66 Pages




Time Orientation
Ancient Greek Time Perspectives
Duration vs. Succession
Cultural Time Perspectives
Zimbardo Time Perspective Model
Racial Ideology
Multidimensional Model of Racial Identity
Racial Ideology, Time Orientation, and Predicted Relationships
Nationalist Ideology: Past Negative Time Orientation (H1)
Assimilationist Ideology: Future Time Orientation (H2)
Self Construal

Self Construal Scale (SCS)
Zimbardo Time Perspective Inventory (ZTPI)
Multidimensional Inventory of Black Identity (MIBI)
Demographics Questionnaire

Correlations among Racial Ideology Dimensions
Correlations among Time Orientation Dimensions
Correlations between Time Orientation and Racial Ideology Dimensions
Nationalist Ideology and Past Negative Time Orientation
Assimilationist Ideology and Future Time Orientation
Self-Construal as a Moderator

Self Construal
Nationalist Racial Ideology
Humanist Racial Ideology
Future Time Orientation
Limitations of the Study
Directions for Future Research

Appendix 1

Appendix 2

Appendix 3




Many psychologists agree that race is a socially created construct, used to categorize individuals into groups for social, political, and economical purposes. Despite its definitional ambiguity, race has a number of behavioral, affective, and cognitive implications within contemporary American society. This study seeks to provide evidence for the idea that the way that Black Americans view their racial group membership (i.e., racial ideology), is associated with how they view and organize time (i.e., time orientation). Thus, this study aims to investigate the relationship between racial ideology and time orientation. Furthermore, this study seeks to investigate the degree to which relationships between racial ideology and time orientation might be modified by self-construal.


Associate Professor Richard D. Harvey

Chairperson and Advisor

Professor Eddie Clark

Professor Honore Hughes


Thanks to the positive people in my life for reminding me of who I am and why I continue to push for what is most important.


Thanks to God for giving me the strength and mental capacity to get through this process. I would like to acknowledge Dr. Richard Harvey for his guidance and advice. I also wish to acknowledge my committee members Dr. Honore Hughes and Dr. Eddie Clark for their friendship and feedback.


Table 1: Zimbardo Time Perspective Inventory (ZTPI) Dimensions

Table 2: Racial Ideologies of the Multidimensional Model of Racial Identity

Table 3: Correlation Matrix of Relationships between Racial Ideology and Time Orientation

Table 4: Results of Hierarchical Multiple Regression Analysis Predicting Effects of Nationalist and Humanist Ideologies on Past Negative Time Orientation

Table 5: Results of Hierarchical Multiple Regression Analysis Predicting Effects of Nationalist and Humanist Ideologies on Past Positive Time Orientation

Table 6: Correlations among Ratings of Low and High Independent Self Construal: Ratings of Low Independent Self Construal Appear Below the Diagonal and Ratings of High Independent Self Construal Appear Above the Diagonal

Table 7: Correlations among Ratings of Low and High Interdependent Self Construal: Ratings of Low Interdependent Self Construal Appear Below the Diagonal and Ratings of High Interdependent Self Construal Appear Above the Diagonal


Figure 1: Predicted relationships between racial ideologies and time orientation dimensions


Time as we know it today, measured by the hands of a clock, is a relatively new phenomenon. It came about as a corollary of the industrial revolution which “required worker discipline if machine and man were to be integrated” (Thrift, 1990, p. 114). Gross and Sheth (1989) analyzed nearly 100 years of American advertising and gathered that as urbanization and industrialization increased, the importance of clock time to consumers also increased. Greater clock-time awareness associated with an increase in time pressure has been accompanied by an increased need to see time as an asset or utility that must be saved, spent, borrowed, made, wasted, invested, and conserved like money (e.g., Birth, 1999; Davies, 1993; Graham, 1981; Kreuter, Lukwago, Bucholtz, Clark, & Sanders-Thompson, 2003). However, the natural flow of time as it exists astronomically is not a component of the clock-time model. Astronomical time is arguably more indicative of non-Western time perspectives.

Mukerjee (1943) in an analysis of time in astronomical terms made the following statement:

Astronomical-time is uniform and homogenous, ceaselessly flowing at a constant rate, and is a myth of the mathematician. The time which is real, concrete, and objective in man ’ s world is related to his experience of the rhythm of life processes in their relations to the environment and, second, experience of the rhythm of activities of the group with which his own activities synchronize in the process of social adaptation. (p. 47)

In other words, time is not quantified by nature. Human beings quantify time into units that are controllable and manipulable. The ways in which humans understand time are relative to their life activities and are based on social phenomena. These human life activities are influenced by what is important in the given culture. In some cultures, particularly indigenous, traditional cultures, life activities are governed by the cycles and processes of nature (Mukerjee, 1943).

In the industrial “machine system,” daily activities are not governed by the natural rhythm of life, but by the speed of the machine (Graham, 1981). Since Western societies are managed by industry and non-Western societies are managed by nature, the conflict between nature and industry lays a foundation for conflict between values, behaviors, and beliefs of these two types of cultures. Furthermore, not only do traditional and modern societies conflict in primary values, they are also detached in terms of their time perspective, which is a value-driven construct.

Subsequent to the industrial revolution, time has become a strict, linear, separable, and limited concept among Western societies, which include Western Europe, the United States, and other industrialized countries that follow the European-American model (Davies, 1993). The ability to control and manage time to predict the future is important to the structure of these cultures. On the contrary, researchers have agreed that people from non-Western cultures, like those within Asia, Africa, South America and Eastern Europe that are not strictly governed by the Western European-American industrialized paradigm, tend to view time astronomically; time is uncontrollable by humans, guided by nature, and governed by social phenomena (Coser & Coser, 1963). The way one views the past, present, and future, including whether one views time as linear and manipulable, or natural and socially based is referred to as one’s time orientation (Nuttin, 1964) . Time orientation can be formed or developed as a result of various cultural, institutional, and familial influences and it functions as an individual differences variable (Zimbardo & Boyd, 1999). In other words, individuals have a certain disposition, or “bias” toward past, present, or future time orientation that can predict how they respond across life situations (Zimbardo & Boyd, 1999). Time orientation can tell a lot about someone’s priorities, way of life, and how they relate to others within their society (Zimbardo & Boyd, 1999).

African Americans have been found to adopt aspects of Western time perspectives and non-Western time perspectives, largely depending upon the way they have been socialized to view Black racial group membership (Brown & Jones, 2004). Black people in America have an interesting disposition within mainstream society. There exists a perpetual tug between obtaining success and acceptance within the mainstream while preserving those aspects of traditional African culture that make Blacks unique. Empirical models of racial identification have illustrated that among Blacks, the process of establishing one’s racial identity can be a rather turbulent one as a result of this “double-consciousness,” or dual identity of being both African and American (Cross, 1971; Dubois, 1903; Jackson, 1976; Milliones, 1980; Parham & Helms, 1985). The component of racial identity that addresses the values, beliefs, and behaviors associated with racial group membership is racial ideology (Sellers, Shelton, Rowley, & Chavous, 1998).

Racial ideology, like time orientation, can tell a lot about what African Americans consider important in life, including factors that motivate behaviors (Sellers, Rowley, Chavous, Shelton & Smith, 1997). The way people appraise the world and interact with others depends on the ideological framework through which circumstances are perceived. The relationship between racial ideology and time orientation has not been examined empirically. Correlations between these variables may have behavioral implications, considering the strong theoretical connection that racial ideology and time orientation have with cultural differences in social behavior (Gardner, Gabriel, & Lee, 1999). Methods used to confront disparities within the Black community, including health disparities (Kreuter et al., 2003) and learning disparities (Brown & Segal, 1996; Brown & Jones, 2004) may be greatly influenced by the ability of scientists and practitioners to understand African Americans’ cultural references.


Time Orientation

Time orientation refers to the unconscious method by which people divide the course of their personal lives into past, present, and future (Nuttin, 1964; Zimbardo & Boyd, 1999). This definition includes whether one views time as linear and manipulable or natural and socially based (Coser & Coser, 1963; Nuttin, 1964). Western cultures tend to view time as a commodity similar to money (e.g., Kreuter et al., 2003) and stress preparation for the future (Zimbardo & Boyd, 1999; Brown & Jones, 2004). On the other hand, people from non-Western cultures that are more collectivist tend to stress relationships and value present experiences (Zimbardo & Boyd, 1999; Coser & Coser, 1963). The study of time orientation has varied throughout history, but researchers agree that time is generally viewed as either linear or socially driven.

Ancient Greek Time Perspective: Chronus and Cronus. Leach (1961) differentiated between two ancient Greek theories of time, chronus and cronus. Chronus represented the eternal time that was experienced and understood similarly throughout a society. Cronus, on the other hand, represented significant events in time that would be experienced differently among persons within a society, as significant events vary among individuals. The lack of objectivity of chronus and cronus is representative of the fact that ancient Greeks did not have watches; time was perceived as relative and general (Leach, 1961). However, within this ancient Greek perspective was an inherent need to partition time into units that could be manipulated and standardized. This time perspective could be understood as a robust equilibrium model of time orientation (Arrow, 1997). Robust equilibrium models emphasize constant change within a society marked by early and late periods, transfusing from a lesser to a more developed state, and emerging to a “finished” status of development that remains relatively consistent (Arrow, 1997). Subsequently, chronus and cronus as time perspectives can be categorized as the “early” status of the robust equilibrium model of dichotomous time in Western society, with succession and duration representing the “late” status. Succession and duration, like chronus and cronus, describe time measurement using events.

Duration versus Succession. Fraisse (1984) introduced duration and succession; a dyadic concept of time that offers a modern, English representation of the ancient Greeks’ chronus and cronus. Succession signifies how one event can be seen as following another. Time as succession is closely linked to planning behaviors (Rojas-Méndez, Davies, Omer, Chetthamrongchai, & Madran, 2002). Duration is measured as the interval between two successive events. Succession and duration can be understood in terms of “planning using events” and “time pressure” respectively (Rojas-Méndez, et al., 2002). Though Fraisse’s (1984) model of time continues to be referred to throughout modern time orientation literature, it poses a number of operational complications. For example, issues arise when attempting to standardize the meaning ascribed to duration. Using “time pressure” to denote duration, perceptions of the “distant past” and “near past” durations could be completely different depending on the person (Cottle & Klineberg, 1974). The same goes for “near future” and “distant future”; for instance, tomorrow could be perceived as distant future to someone who has not eaten for a long time. As a result, it is difficult to standardize and manipulate duration in experiments without standardizing and manipulating individual perceptions. Another similar issue is the model’s applicability to Western society. Fraisse’s (1984) model, though intended to be reflective of dichotomous Western time, lacks the objective, controllable and allocable nature that is more characteristic of the view of time endorsed by individual constituents of Western societies. Westerners are likely to discuss time in ordinal terms, not nominal terms. Non-Westerners, on the other hand, tend to view time much more generally.

Cultural Time Perspectives. Coser and Coser (1963) recognized that time orientation varies among societies and groups within societies. This model is unique because it shows how people conceptualize and use their time in relation to the collective society. For example, researchers have found that people from more traditional cultures continue to prefer a more relaxed, socially-based conceptualization of time. Terms like “Any time is Trinidad time,” “Soon come,” and “CP time” (i.e., Colored People’s time) have been used endearingly by members of different cultures to describe their partiality toward living in the moment, seeing time in relative terms, and not being restricted by the clock. Coser and Coser’s (1963) theory champions the notion that individual perspectives of time are socially constructed. Social constructionism describes the process by which symbolic characteristics of a society are adopted by its citizens (Berger & Luckman, 1966). Once a perspective of time becomes reciprocally institutionalized (based on a common history that group members share) individuals within a particular area may adopt the time perspective embedded within the social structure of that region. If time orientation is socially constructed, then attempts to study or measure the construct using a singular, universal model or method would prove ineffective; no one model of time would represent every societal structure. Furthermore, researchers must reflect on the multiplicity of social structures when attempting to create time orientation models and measures.

Zimbardo Time Perspective Model. The Zimbardo time perspective model (Gonzalez & Zimbardo, 1985) is influenced by Lewin’s (1951) life space model that defines time perspective as the “totality of the individual views of [one’s] psychological future and psychological past existing at a given time.” According to Zimbardo and Boyd (1999) Lewin’s model is similar to Eastern Zen notions of time and gives credence to circular, non-Western temporal views. The authors note the significance of cultural differences in time orientation, but Gonzalez and Zimbardo agree that different people tend to be more present, past, or future oriented, regardless of culture (Gonzalez & Zimbardo, 1985; McGrath & Tschan, 2004).

Gonzalez and Zimbardo (1985) noted their theoretical and personal bias toward evaluating time from a future, or Western, time perspective. An assumption embedded within the model is that a future time orientation yields more positive consequences than a present time orientation for individuals within Western society (Gonzalez & Zimbardo, 1985). The rationale that a present or past orientation may be more adaptive for non-Westerners is not examined, so individuals with a primarily past or present time orientation and who make life decisions based on these temporal perspectives may be viewed as less ideal. Despite the Western bias of Gonzalez and Zimbardo’s (1985) model, it does represent individual time perspectives without focusing on specific definitions of time and is rooted in a theory that recognizes non-Western perspectives of time (Lewin, 1951).

The Zimbardo Time Perspective Inventory (ZTPI) was derived from the model outlined by Gonzalez & Zimbardo (1985). It developed as a result of factor analyses, interviews, discriminant validity analyses, and revisions over several years (Zimbardo & Boyd, 1999). From 1995 to 1997, eight different samples of students from universities and community schools in California (N = 606) were solicited to respond to 56 items on the ZTPI questionnaire. As a result of exploratory principle components analyses of these samples, five distinct factors of time perspective emerged. The five factors explained 36% of the total variance and no factor loaded below .30. Using the 5 factor structure as a guide, a confirmatory factor analysis was performed on a new sample of students (N = 361). The items were significant on the 5 factors as was expected with two items that had a factor loading of -.26 and .29. These items were retained in the final ZTPI because they were theoretically important and did not lower the overall validity of the scale. The test-retest reliability coefficients on all 5 factors ranged from .70 to .80. The five factors of time perspectives outlined in the Zimbardo Time Perspective Inventory are future, present hedonistic, present fatalistic, past positive and past negative. Each of these unique orientations describes specific cognitive, affective, and behavioral motivating factors.

Future time orientation (FTO) is understood as a general ability and desire to forego present pleasures in lieu of future rewards (Zimbardo & Boyd, 1999). FTO has been associated with conscientiousness, academic achievement, health maintenance behaviors, and energy (Zimbardo & Boyd, 1999). Trommsdorff (1983, 1986) noted that FTO is motivational, affective, and based on subjective needs that individuals anticipate will be real at some point in their lives beyond the present. Nurmi (1989, 1991) described the motivational property of FTO as a “multistage process” that includes exploration, goal setting, and commitment. Husman and Lens (1999) and Boninger, Gleicher, and Strathman (1994) agree that FTO suggests a promotion- focused cognitive desire to be able to predict events that will occur in the future by engaging in specific activities in the present that individuals believe will lead to positive short and long term consequences. In Western society, outcomes of FTO can be seen as the opposite of outcomes of present hedonistic time orientation (PHTO).

Zimbardo and Boyd (1999) describe present hedonistic time orientation (PHTO) as a preoccupation with present pleasure accompanied by a lack of consideration for future consequences. This time perspective is associated with high drug and alcohol use, unsafe sexual practices, and omission of preventative health maintenance behaviors (Zimbardo & Boyd, 1999). Someone with a PHTO is less apt to engage in counterfactual thinking, or consider hypothetical alternatives to negative outcomes of one’s behavior, than a future oriented individual (Strathman, Gleicher, Boninger, & Edwards, 1994). As a result, someone with a PHTO rarely learns from previous mistakes (Strathman et al., 1994). Though PHTO is generally viewed negatively in the literature, living in the present and enjoying the moment can have some positive psychological and social outcomes (Randolph and Banks, 1993).

Present fatalistic time orientation (PFTO) is characterized by a belief that fate determines the outcomes of one’s life (Zimbardo & Boyd, 1999). Often, PFTO is associated with religiosity and faith in a higher being that has the ultimate control over all things and is positively correlated

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Table 1: Zimbardo Time Perspective Inventory (ZTPI) Dimensions

with aggression, depression, and trait anxiety (Zimbardo & Boyd, 1999). People who subscribe to this time perspective have an acquiescent view of the present, as they believe they are unable to influence either the present or the future by their actions (McGrath & Tschan, 2004; Zimbardo & Boyd, 1999). As a result, a present fatalistic person lacks a feeling of control or resolve within his or her life and are not likely to try to change behaviors in order to alter life situations. Moreover, a present fatalistic time orientation is often used in the context of religiosity to cope with an uncertain future (Zwingmann & Murken, 2000). These individuals may be known to make statements like “God is in control” or “Lord Knows.”

Past orientation is separated into two types: past positive and past negative (Boyd & Zimbardo, 1997). Past positive time orientation (PPTO) represents a reflection on the past that is pleasant and nostalgic (Boyd & Zimbardo, 1997; McGrath & Tschan, 2004; Zimbardo & Boyd, 1999). PPTO is positively correlated with energy, friendliness, and self-esteem and negatively correlated with aggression, depression, and trait anxiety (Zimbardo & Boyd, 1999). For those with a PPTO, reflection on the past brings about positive sentiments that are linked to either experiences that the individual holds dear from early life (e.g., grandma’s hugs) or experiences that multiple members of the society deem constructive and reflective (e.g., establishing an independent government). Individuals with a PPTO emphasize tradition, ancestors, and rituals rooted in the society’s history. On the contrary, past negative time orientation (PNTO) represents a reflection on the past that is unpleasant and aversive (Boyd & Zimbardo, 1997; McGrath & Tschan, 2004; Zimbardo & Boyd 1999). PNTO is positively correlated with aggression, depression, and trait anxiety and negatively correlated with energy, friendliness, and self-esteem (Zimbardo & Boyd, 1999). Former abuse or a history of oppression in a society can contribute to a PNTO. Table 1 lists the time orientation dimensions of the ZTPI and associated cognitions.

Racial Ideology

What does it mean to be Black in America? It depends on who is asked. The actions, physical attributes, philosophies, and feelings individuals demonstrate can be considered “Black”, “too Black”, or “not Black enough” by others inside and outside of the African American community (Davis, 2001). One’s perceived level of Blackness can determine how one is treated by other Blacks and whether or not he or she is accepted by all others in the community. An individual racial ideology not only deals with how one conducts life and interacts with society as a Black person, but also includes the characteristics and values one believes other Blacks have—or should have.

Racial identity has been associated with virtually every facet of life for racial minorities including health behaviors (Phinney & Kohatsu, 1997), mate preference (Twine, 1996), self- esteem (Hughes & Demo, 1989; Rowley, Sellers, Chavous, & Smith, 1996), occupational preference (Helms & Piper, 1994; Parham & Austin, 1994; Woods, 1992), academic achievement, (Baldwin, Duncan & Bell, 1987; Chavous, 1996) and subjective well being (Redman, 1996). The literature has used racial identity to refer to a similarity and closeness to a particular racial ingroup in feelings, beliefs, thoughts, and values (e.g., Broman, Neighbors, & Jackson, 1988; Gurin, Miller, & Gurin, 1980). Akin to time orientation, racial identity represents an individual differences variable that directs situational behavior and appraisals (Sellers, Shelton, et al., 1998).

Racial identification models are helpful in explaining the, values, beliefs, and philosophies associated with one’s racial group membership. For Blacks, the racial identification process may include characteristics such as adopting an Africentric world view (Sellers et al., 1998), having anti-Black or anti-White attitudes (Vandiver, Cross, Worrell, & Fhagen-Smith, 2000), or desiring to belong to activist groups (Banks, 1970; Gurin, Gurin, Lao, & Beattie, 1969; Wilderson, 1979). However, based on the definitions offered by scholars, racial identity refers to one’s commitment to and alignment with a particular racial group (e.g., Helms, 1990). Though some group-based models incorporate this definition of racial identity into the operationalization of the construct (e.g., Wilderson, 1979), the developmental (e.g, Cross, 1971) and Africentric (e.g., Sellers, Shelton, et al., 1998) models deal more or less exclusively with the feelings and beliefs attached to racial group membership. Accordingly, these models operate more comprehensibly as racial ideology models. Racial ideology is the component of racial identity that addresses the values, beliefs, and behaviors associated with one’s racial group membership and it is categorized as part of the Africentric approach to studying racial identification (Sellers, Shelton, et al., 1998).

Researchers define the Africentric worldview in terms of the values, assumptions, and beliefs characteristic of people of African descent. Parallels between Black Americans and Blacks throughout the Diaspora in the expression of values, beliefs, and relations with others have been acknowledged (Belgrave, Brome, & Hampton, 2000; Mbiti, 1970, 1990). Some researchers claim that adherence by Blacks of African descent to an Africentric worldview is optimal, suggesting clinical and diagnostic uses for these models (Akbar, 1989; Azibo, 1996; Baldwin, 1981; Baldwin & Bell, 1985; Burlew & Smith, 1991; Myers, 1988). The Africentric approach also assumes that Blacks with Eurocentric personalities will suffer from cognitive and emotional dissonance associated with inconsistencies between one’s life philosophy and one’s natural tendencies and desires (Akbar, 1989; Belgrave, Brome, & Hampton, 2000).


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CP Time. Racial Ideology and Time Orientation Among African Americans
Saint Louis University
Time Orientation
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Racial Ideology, Time Orientation, Self Construal, African Americans
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Cathryn Blue (Author), 2011, CP Time. Racial Ideology and Time Orientation Among African Americans, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/351627


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