Adam Bulley

Adam Bulley
Harvard University | Harvard · Department of Psychology

Doctor of Philosophy

About

37
Publications
11,947
Reads
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629
Citations
Introduction
I am a postdoctoral fellow at the Brain and Mind Centre and School of Psychology, The University of Sydney, and the Department of Psychology at Harvard University. In my research I use the tools of evolutionary and cognitive psychology to study the mind and human behavior. Specifically, I investigate the evolution, development, and psychological mechanisms of imagination, foresight, decision-making, and emotion. Visit my personal website: http://www.adambulley.org/

Publications

Publications (37)
Article
Humans are capable of imagining future rewards and the contexts in which they may be obtained. Functionally, intertemporal choices between smaller but immediate and larger but delayed rewards may be made without such episodic foresight. However, we propose that explicit simulations of this sort enable more flexible and adaptive intertemporal decisi...
Preprint
Full-text available
In psychology, neuroscience, artificial intelligence and philosophy, "prediction" is widely recognized as central to cognition. Mental time travel into the future is the form of cognitive prediction ("prospection") most intimately connected to adaptive human functioning. It underpins explicit goal-setting, collaborative planning, and the pursuit of...
Article
Humans have evolved mechanisms for the detection and management of possible threats in order to abate their negative consequences for fitness. Internally generated (‘detached’) cognition may have evolved in part because of its contributions to this broad function, but important questions remain about its role in threat management. In this article,...
Article
Humans, like other animals, typically discount the value of delayed rewards relative to those available in the present. From an evolutionary perspective, prioritising immediate rewards is a predictable response to high local mortality rates, as is an acceleration of reproductive scheduling. In a sample of 46 countries, we explored the cross-country...
Book
From the publisher: A spellbinding exploration of the human capacity to imagine the future Our ability to think about the future is one of the most powerful tools at our disposal. In The Invention of Tomorrow, cognitive scientists Thomas Suddendorf, Jonathan Redshaw, and Adam Bulley argue that its emergence transformed humans from unremarkable p...
Article
Full-text available
The capacity for subjective time in humans encompasses the perception of time’s unfolding from moment to moment, as well as the ability to traverse larger temporal expanses of past- and future-oriented thought via mental time travel. Disruption in time perception can result in maladaptive outcomes—from the innocuous lapse in timing that leads to a...
Preprint
Intertemporal decision-making has long been assumed to measure self-control, with prominent theories treating choices of smaller, sooner rewards as failed attempts to override immediate temptation. If this view is correct, people should be more confident in their intertemporal decisions when they “successfully” delay gratification than when they do...
Article
Older adults are at high risk of suffering debilitating health effects from COVID-19. Effective communication of associated risks is therefore paramount. A new study finds that imagining a personalized disease transmission event amplifies perceived risk and bolsters risk-related information seeking in older age.
Article
Full-text available
Ainslie offers an encompassing and compelling account of willpower, although his big-picture view comes occasionally at the cost of low resolution. We comment on ambiguity in the metacognitive and prospective mechanisms of resolve implicated in recursive self-prediction. We hope to show both the necessity and promise of specifying testable cognitiv...
Article
Mobile containers are a keystone human innovation. Ethnographic data indicate that all human groups use containers such as bags, quivers and baskets, ensuring that individuals have important resources at the ready and are prepared for opportunities and threats before they materialize. Although there is speculation surrounding the invention of carry...
Article
From maps sketched in sand to supercomputing software, humans ubiquitously enhance cognitive performance by creating and using artifacts that bear mental load [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]. This extension of information processing into the environment has taken center stage in debates about the nature of cognition in humans and other animals [6, 7, 8, 9]. How do...
Article
Many animals manipulate their environments in ways that appear to augment cognitive processing. Adult humans show remarkable flexibility in this domain, typically relying on internal cognitive processing when adequate but turning to external support in situations of high internal demand. We use calendars, calculators, navigational aids and other ex...
Article
Full-text available
Many fundamental choices in life are intertemporal: they involve trade-offs between sooner and later outcomes. In recent years there has been a surge of interest into how people make intertemporal decisions, given that such decisions are ubiquitous in everyday life and central in domains from substance use to climate change action. While it is clea...
Article
Hoerl & McCormack (H&M) discuss the possible function of meta-representations in temporal cognition but ultimately take an agnostic stance. Here we outline the fundamental role that we believe meta-representations play. Because humans know that their representations of future events are just representations, they are in a position to compensate for...
Chapter
Full-text available
One of the fundamental roles of human imagination is to enable the representation of possible future events. Here, we survey some of the most critical abilities that this foresight supports: anticipating future emotions, setting and pursuing goals, preparing for threats, deliberately acquiring skills and knowledge, and intentionally shaping the fut...
Article
Full-text available
Humans frequently create mental models of the future, allowing outcomes to be inferred in advance of their occurrence. Recent evidence suggests that imagining positive future events reduces delay discounting (the devaluation of reward with time until its receipt), while imagining negative future events may increase it. Here, using a sample of 297 p...
Chapter
Full-text available
The previous two decades have seen much theoretical and empirical research into the future thinking capacities of non-human animals. Here we critically review the evidence across six domains: (1) navigation and route planning, (2) intertemporal choice and delayed gratification, (3) preparing for future threats, (4) acquiring and constructing tools...
Article
Full-text available
Much of human life revolves around anticipating and planning for the future. It has become increasingly clear that this capacity for prospective cognition is a core adaptive function of the mind. Here, we review the role of prospection in two key functional domains: goal-directed behavior and flexible decision-making. We then survey and categorize...
Article
In psychology, neuroscience, artificial intelligence, and philosophy, “prediction” is widely recognized as central to cognition. Mental time travel into the future is the form of cognitive prediction (“prospection”) most intimately connected to adaptive human functioning. It underpins explicit goal-setting, collaborative planning, and the pursuit o...
Article
Full-text available
The current study explored under what conditions young children would set reminders to aid their memory for delayed intentions. A computerized task requiring participants to carry out delayed intentions under varying levels of cognitive load was presented to 63 children (aged between 6.9 and 13.0 years old). Children of all ages demonstrated metaco...
Article
The future harbours the potential for myriad threats to the fitness of organisms, and many species prepare accordingly based on indicators of hazards. Here, we distinguish between defensive responses on the basis of sensed cues and those based on autocues generated by mental simulations of the future in humans. Whereas sensed threat cues usually in...
Preprint
In psychology, neuroscience, artificial intelligence and philosophy, “prediction” is widely recognized as central to cognition. Mental time travel into the future is the form of cognitive prediction (“prospection”) most intimately connected to adaptive human functioning. It underpins explicit goal-setting, collaborative planning, and the pursuit of...
Preprint
The current study explored under what conditions young children would set reminders to aid their memory for delayed intentions. A computerized task requiring participants to carry out delayed intentions under varying levels of cognitive load was presented to 63 children (aged between 6.9 and 13.0 years old). Children of all ages demonstrated metaco...
Article
Full-text available
Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD) and Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) are highly prevalent and frequently co-occur. The results of population studies suggest that SAD tends to precede AUD, and the results of laboratory studies suggest that alcohol use facilitates social behaviors in socially anxious individuals. Therefore, we posited that, in a modern conte...
Article
Adults are capable of predicting their emotional reactions to possible future events. Nevertheless, they systematically overestimate the intensity of their future emotional reactions relative to how they feel when these events actually occur. The developmental origin of this 'intensity bias' has not yet been examined. Two studies were conducted to...
Chapter
Full-text available
Article
Planning for the future may encourage apparently “impulsive” behaviour when the future is anticipated to be bleak. Thus, a seeming failure of self-control in reactive violence could be caused not by a disinclination to plan ahead, but by virtue of this ability. Furthermore, we point to empirical and theoretical shortcomings in the authors' case, su...
Article
Full-text available
Purpose: The purpose of this study was to perform a systematic review and meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies that examined the relationship between anxiety disorders, or clinically significant anxiety symptoms, at baseline and all-cause mortality at follow-up relative to control participants without clinically significant anxiety. Method...
Article
Planning for the future may encourage apparently ‘impulsive’ behaviour when the future is anticipated to be bleak. Thus, a seeming failure of self-control in reactive violence could be caused not by a disinclination to plan ahead, but by virtue of this ability. Furthermore, we point to empirical and theoretical shortcomings in the authors’ case, su...
Chapter
Full-text available
Article
In this paper, we examine the relationship between episodic foresight and anxiety from an evolutionary perspective, proposing that together they confer an advantage for modifying present moment decision-making and behaviour in the light of potential future threats to fitness. We review the body of literature on the role of episodic foresight in anx...

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