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Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Research Study: We're Not Good Predictors of Who We'll Be in the Future

According to a recent New York Times article by John Tierney, a study finds that even when we're able to look back and see that we've changed over the years, we're not good predictors of what we'll be like in the future (see link below).  According to the article, which was conducted with 19,000 people between the ages of 18-68, people expect that, in the future, they won't change much from who they are now.

Research Study Finds We're Not Good Predictors of Who We'll Be in the Future
The End of History Illusion
The researchers who conducted the study called this phenomenon "the end of history illusion" because people tend to underestimate how much they'll change in the future, despite how much who they are now changed from the past.

People who participated in the study were asked about current personality traits and preferences (favorite foods, vacations, hobbies, etc) as compared to the past.  They were also asked to make predictions about their personality traits and preferences for the future.  The article indicates that people tended to play down the potential of their changing in the future, assuming that they would be pretty much as they are now.

In the Future, How We'll See Who We Are Now
According to the New York Times article, one of the study's authors, Daniel T. Gilbert, Harvard psychologist, indicated that most people in the study didn't realize that, in the future, they'd look back on who they are now with the same amusement or chagrin as they currently look back on their former selves.

Speculating as to why this phenomenon occurs, the researchers hypothesized that one reason might be that people feel a certain comfort with feeling that they've already reached the peak of their personal evolution, so they don't think they will change in the future.

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To find out more about me, visit my web site:  
Josephine Ferraro, LCSW - NYC Psychotherapist.

To set up a consultation, call me at (212) 726-1006.

Why You Won't Be the Person You Expect to Be - 
New York Times - by John Tierney