People hugely underestimate the changes they will undergo in the next decade, says a new study.
Is the job right for you? Will you be happy with your current partner in the future? Will the tattoo that you got recently remain the same? To answer these questions, you need to be able to predict the changes later in your life, which, according to latest research, not many people are able to do.
The study, conducted by researchers from The Harvard University and the University of Virginia, included more than 19,000 people aged between 18 and 68. All participants answered a questionnaire about themselves like how extraverted they were, their emotional stability, their openness to new experiences etc. Next, researchers asked these people to rate themselves on the aforementioned criteria ten years in the past year and ten years in the future. Researchers found that, although, many participants felt that they've changed a great deal in past decade, they feel that they'll remain unchanged in the next ten years.
"It's hard to imagine ourselves in the future. That mistakenly causes us to think we won't change in the future. What our study shows is that people dramatically underestimate how different their future selves will be," said Daniel Gilbert, a professor in the department of psychology at Harvard University, HealthDay reports.
The main limitation of the study was that researchers didn't actually track down these people for ten years to see if they've changed. Also, participants were selected randomly, but were people who had completed an online survey after watching a French TV show, reports HealthDay. More than 80 percent of the participants were women.
Although, young people were the most likely to underestimate changes in the future, older generation too felt that they'd done ageing and that they wouldn't change anymore.
Gilbert and colleagues say that this effect is called "the end of history illusion," because it makes people believe that they've done changing with age and they will remain this way in the future, Science reported.
"All of our decisions are made with a future self in mind, whether we're shopping for what we'll eat next week or a partner we want to marry. Most people believe they have the right values. It's comforting to believe that change has basically stopped. Isn't that what you want to do when you're on a trip? You feel good when you're getting to where you're heading," Gilbert concluded, HealthDay reported.