We’re not sure how many people worry about this, but think for a minute about the future you.
That’s right, you, in maybe 10 years.
Apparently most people are incapable of doing this is any realistic sense. They can look back on their lives and see all of the various changes and
bumps in the road. But looking forward, people only see an eternal now. They see themselves unchanged.
Why does this matter? We at Worlding think it may say something about attitudes toward difference and newness. People who don’t expect to change could very well resist ideas they don’t understand. And let’s not even think about people who live in the past. Certainly the last year’s political confrontation have shown us the close-mindedness of Teapartiers and others who cling to memory at the expense of all else. So, as the New York Times reports:
“When we remember our past selves, they seem quite different. We know how much our personalities and tastes have changed over the years. But when we look ahead, somehow we expect ourselves to stay the same, a team of psychologists said Thursday, describing research they conducted of people’s self-perceptions.
“They called this phenomenon the ‘end of history illusion,’ in which people tend to ‘underestimate how much they will change in the future.’According to their research, which involved more than 19,000 people ages 18 to 68, the illusion persists from teenage years into retirement.
“’Middle-aged people — like me — often look back on our teenage selves with some mixture of amusement and chagrin,’ said one of the authors, Daniel T. Gilbert, a psychologist at Harvard. ‘What we never seem to realize is that our future selves will look back and think the very same thing about us. At every age we think we’re having the last laugh, and at every age we’re wrong.’
“Other psychologists said they were intrigued by the findings, published Thursday in the journal Science, and were impressed with the amount of supporting evidence. Participants were asked about their personality traits and preferences — their favorite foods, vacations, hobbies and bands — in years past and present, and then asked to make predictions for the future. Not surprisingly, the younger people in the study reported more change in the previous decade than did the older respondents. But when asked to predict what their personalities and tastes would be like in 10 years, people of all ages consistently played down the potential changes ahead.”