Coined by, among others, positive psychology pioneer Martin E. P. Seligman, prospection refers broadly to the mental representation and evaluation of possible futures.
Prospection may include planning, prediction, hypothetical scenarios, teleological patterns, daydreaming, and evaluative assessment of possible future events. This ability to represent possible futures fundamentally shapes human cognitive, affective, and motivational systems and yet remains an understudied field of research. Effects of prospection on current cognition, emotion, motivation, and behavior are also of interest.
Prospection is a ubiquitous feature of the human mind. For the past several decades, social science has concentrated on the antecedents of human action: how the past determines the present and the future. With the emphasized focus of prospection it might be possible to catalyze a change in the course of social science by moving prospection to the center of research on human action.
Build & Share the future
Build & Share is a method that helps individuals and groups explore possible futures in a cognitive and experiential way. A key component in Build & Share is that it facilitates the benefits from narrative approaches using prospective storytelling and metaphors. In Build & Share the stories we tell about our future contributes to the construction, reproduction, or transformation of our reality and identity.
Through the use of LEGO® the participants build metaphorical models that visualize and make meaning of abstract concepts that can otherwise be quite difficult to comprehend. The metaphors give a more complex creation of understanding and can make something more meaningful by equating it with something else. At the same time the use of metaphors and the way participants visualize things in a Build & Share workshop makes it much easier for participants to remember.
The brain and building the future
Research has shown that the brain better handles and stores information through images and in that way use visual sources to create new ideas and make more meaning of complex things. A Build & Share process takes advantage of the human ability to imagine things and create something radically new. This is a key capacity when we want to be more innovative, create knowledge and develop ourselves and the group we interact in. In that context Build & Share aims to enable all three kinds of key properties of prospection : to describe, to create, and to challenge the future.
LEGO® SERIOUS® PLAY® for Positive Psychology is an effective group oriented method that also deals with some of the problematic forces that often happen within a group of people.
One of the common challenges when working with groups is the way the group dynamic influence individual behavior, attitudes, and opinions. One group member may not personally agree with something the group does, but nevertheless just go along with the norm and publicly agree with the group and keep the private beliefs to themselves.
This mostly happens because the person is unsure of what to do, or because he/she is afraid of being different and starting a conflict. Years of research show that people tend to go along with the majority view, even if that view is objectively incorrect or even contravenes someone’s beliefs. This phenomenon is what researchers call groupthink and it refers to faulty decision-making in a group.
Groupthink dominates personalities and reduces innovation as it prevents the group from exploring all alternatives. One of the important features in a LEGO® SERIOUS® PLAY® for Positive Psychology process is that it seeks to create an environment in which participants feel safe and comfortable. There is no right or wrong answer in LEGO® SERIOUS® PLAY® for Positive Psychology and individual differences are considered as a gain rather than an obstacle.
Time for reflection
At the same time the participants get room for reflection during the building process without interruption. The result is a response not based on a hasty answer but a deeper reflection represented in a physical and visual outcome – the LEGO® model. This model cannot change during the sharing process which makes LEGO® SERIOUS® PLAY® for Positive Psychology an ideal method to encourage a more open and honest reflection process. It creates a more comfortable and safe environment for people that tend to be introvert and reluctant. This will not only strengthen the individuals, but also the group as a whole, because everybody’s opinion will be heard.
“Thinkering’ is a word coined by Michael Ondaatje in his novel The English Patient. It expresses the creation and understanding of concepts in the mind while tinkering with the hands.
When we physically engage with things, especially with our hands, we generate a great variety of sensory images. These sensory images help us understand our immediate realty and serve us in our personal and shared meaning making.
A surprisingly large part of the human brain is dedicated to controlling the hands. Therefore, when people construct things with their hands they simultaneously construct theories and knowledge in their minds. When we “think with our hands” we create more new neural connection thus unleashing creative energies, new modes of thought, and novel ways of seeing what most adults have forgotten they even possessed. The notion of “learning by making”, or “thinking with your hands”, draws on neuroscience, the use of play and expressive arts in therapy. It bring out insights and learning that intellectual reasoning alone might not be able to discover.
LEGO® SERIOUS® PLAY® for Positive Psychology has shown that adults can regain their ability to play, which offers creative possibilities because it emphasizes freedom and plays down responsibility, self-consciousness and shame. This non-judgemental environment of play is more likely to foster surprising and innovative ideas.