Neglecting Decline: Remembered and Predicted Personal Development Diverge from Actual Longitudinal Change

63 Pages Posted: 18 Feb 2016

See all articles by Sarah Molouki

Sarah Molouki

University of Chicago - Booth School of Business

Daniel M. Bartels

University of Chicago - Booth School of Business

Oleg Urminsky

University of Chicago - Booth School of Business

Date Written: 2016

Abstract

A one-year longitudinal study was conducted to investigate the accuracy of people’s assessments of their own personal change over time. We compared people’s predicted, actual, and recalled change in their personality, values, and preferences over this time period. On average, participants underestimated the absolute magnitude of their personal change, yet simultaneously overestimated their net improvement, in both prediction and recall. This effect was due to an asymmetry whereby people selectively neglected negative changes, especially prospectively. Although participants in our sample both improved and declined over the year, they were more likely to remember past improvements than declines, and made nearly uniformly positive predictions of future change. We discuss how the current findings reconcile research demonstrating expectations of personal improvement (e.g., Wilson & Ross, 2001; Kanten & Teigen, 2008) with other research that suggests people overpredict their personal stability (Quoidbach, Gilbert, & Wilson, 2013).

Keywords: Self-perception, self, time, future self, past self, personal change, personality

Suggested Citation

Molouki, Sarah and Bartels, Daniel M. and Urminsky, Oleg, Neglecting Decline: Remembered and Predicted Personal Development Diverge from Actual Longitudinal Change (2016). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2733372 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2733372

Sarah Molouki

University of Chicago - Booth School of Business ( email )

5807 S. Woodlawn Avenue
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

Daniel M. Bartels

University of Chicago - Booth School of Business ( email )

5807 S. Woodlawn Avenue
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

Oleg Urminsky (Contact Author)

University of Chicago - Booth School of Business ( email )

5807 S. Woodlawn Avenue
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

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