Neglecting Decline: Remembered and Predicted Personal Development Diverge from Actual Longitudinal Change
63 Pages Posted: 18 Feb 2016
Date Written: 2016
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
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