Five experiments investigated the cognitive processes involved in the elaboration of past and future events. A production listing procedure was used, in which participants listed details of each event in forwards chronological order, backwards chronological order, or free order. For both past and future events, forwards and free ordering conditions were reliably faster than backwards order. Production rates between past and future temporal directions did not differ in Experiments 1a, 1b, and 3. However, in Experiment 2, the elaboration of future events was faster than the elaboration of past events. This pattern can be explained by the findings of Experiment 4, in which production rates were faster for likely events than for unlikely events but only in the future condition. Overall, the findings suggest that the elaboration of future, but not past, events, is facilitated when constructed around current goals.
Anderson, R. J., Peters, L., & Dewhurst, S. A. (2015). Episodic elaboration: Investigating the structure of retrieved past events and imagined future events. Consciousness and cognition, 33(1), (112-124). doi:10.1016/j.concog.2014.12.007. ISSN 1090-2376