You're Lousy at Imagining Your Future Self: Study
People underestimate how much they'll change
By Kevin Spak, Newser User
Posted Jan 4, 2013 9:00 AM CST
We're not very good at seeing the future   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – Thinking of getting married? Buying a house? Picking a college major? Or making any decision that will affect you a decade later? Well don't be surprised if it doesn't turn out the way you expect, because humans are lousy at predicting how much they'll change over time, a new study suggests. Psychologists gave 19,000 people a questionnaire, then asked them to take it again; either as they would have responded 10 years earlier and/or as they imagine they'd respond 10 years later.

In most cases, across all age groups, participants predicted that they would change less in the future than they reported changing in the past, Science reports. To give a more concrete example: 58-year-olds reported sizable changes since age 48, but anticipated few changes at 68; but the 68-year-old group recorded having indeed changed compared to a decade earlier. The authors took this as evidence of the "end of history illusion," the idea that people believe that the present is their ultimate evolution. But not everyone is convinced by their research. One Yale psychologist points out that people "might well anticipate substantial change, yet not know how they would change, and thus, just predict the status quo."

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Showing 3 of 5 comments
OuttaHere
Jan 6, 2013 9:43 AM CST
And I'm getting worse at remembering my past self.
793tango
Jan 4, 2013 7:33 PM CST
I kind of see this because I work with a bunch of 20 somethings and I'm old enough to be their parent. They think I'm a wet blanket with no sense of humor and step on their 'fun'. I tell them that when I was their age I would have found their 'fun' amusing too but since I've been seeing the same behavior over and over and over since then I now just find it stupid, immature and irritating.And I keep telling them to 'Wait until you're my age and you'll understand'. And they don't believe me. I'm starting to think I need to work with people clo0ser to0 my own age. But they're all at Walmart.
finkster
Jan 4, 2013 10:16 AM CST
I predicted I'd be living in a beautiful mansion with a babe of a wife Who always said "Yes,dear" and catered to my every needs.... I didn't realize I'd be living in a Motel and my ex-wife would have everything catered to her needs with my paycheck!!!