Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Predicting Future Happiness

[September 2008 - "Realism and Illusion in Americans' Temporal Views of Their Life Satisfaction" - PSYCHOLOGICAL SCIENCE] Some people are naturally optimistic or pessimistic, but how accurately they predict the level of satisfaction they may attain in the future depends on a variety of factors, according to research published in PSYCHOLOGICAL SCIENCE. In a study led by Brandeis University psychologist Margie Lachman, subjects were surveyed over a nine-year period. In the first survey, in 1995-1996, participants between the ages of 24 and 74 rated their satisfaction with life now, with life 10 years earlier, and with how life may be in another 10 years. They were asked the same questions again in 2004. Lachman and colleagues discovered that there are age-related differences in how individuals view both the past and the future; those age 65 and older rated the past and present equally satisfying but predicted that the future would be less satisfying. Those under age 65 were more optimistic about the future and believed they would be more satisfied a decade hence. "These more negative expectations from older adults may be their way of bracing for an uncertain future, a perspective that can serve a protective function in the face of losses and that can have positive consequences if life circumstances turn out to be better than expected," says Lachman. More


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