End-Of-History Illusion Bias

I know that I have grown up since I was a child, but I can’t imagine that I will change in the future because I feel—or who I think I—have been formed, strong, and cannot be changed. Young people, middle-aged people, and old people think that they have changed a lot in the past, but the future changes will be relatively small. However, most people believe that their personality, work situation and values ​​will not change much in the future, even if they have changed a lot in the past. [Sources: 4, 8, 10]

According to the ending illusion (EOHI; Quoidbach, Gilbert & Wilson, 2013), people underestimate the number of future changes they will experience. Their research was cited in the recent NPR article “You didn’t see it, but in 10 years, you will be a different person”, indicating that people tend to underestimate the changes they will have in the future. Jordi Quoidbach, Dan Gilbert and Timothy Wilson stated that they have shown that people of all ages underestimate the changes in their personalities, preferences and values ​​in the future. [Sources: 0, 6, 9]

Ideally, psychologists would ask people to predict the magnitude of changes and then track them to compare actual changes with predictions. In order to overcome this problem, they asked more than a thousand people to answer a non-specific question and evaluate how much they would change as a person or how much they would change in their opinion. The results show that predictors believe that they have changed less than the personality changes actually experienced by reporters. [Sources: 4, 6]

Moreover, compared with the actual experience of reporters ten years older than them, forecasters have consistently underestimated how much their values ​​and preferences will change. Quoidbach, Gibert, and Wilson concluded from these data that people not only underestimate the changes they will have in the future, but also jeopardize the best decisions. It is also possible that study participants overestimated their past changes, giving the impression that they underestimated future changes. [Sources: 4, 12, 14]

People also like to believe that they know each other well, and the possibility of future changes can jeopardize that belief. This refers to the fact that people assume that they will not change in the future and will basically stay the same. Even more interesting, this illusion is the same for people of all ages. [Sources: 8, 12]

For age groups 18 to 68, people of all ages have described more changes in the past 10 years than they predicted 10 years ago. They measured the personality patterns, values ​​and preferences of more than 19,000 people, asking them to rate how much they think they have changed over the past decade and how much they will change in the next decade. They conducted a series of experiments in which they assessed the personalities, values ​​and preferences of more than 19,000 people between the ages of 18 and 68. [Sources: 2, 5, 7]

In an article published last week in the journal Science, these researchers report a study in which participants were asked to rate how much their personalities, tastes, and values ​​have changed over the past decade, and how much they expect them to change in the next. Their discovery of this phenomenon is based on a series of studies that show that people tend to underestimate how much they will change in the future, even though they know how much they have changed over time. For example, a 25-year-old predictor will predict how much his personality will change when he turns 35. [Sources: 4, 12]

Regardless, the extent of the end-of-story illusion did not change with age, as forecasters consistently predicted that their personalities would change less over the next decade than reporters believed at the time. Again, regression analysis showed the same results, with the illusion of the end of history present in the predictions of changing preferences. The sum of expected future changes among persons aged X was less than the magnitude of past changes reported among persons aged X + 10 years. Unsurprisingly, young people in the study reported more changes in the previous decade than older respondents. [Sources: 3, 9, 14]

Conversely, the analysis showed that the rate of change did not change with age. Research by Quoidbach, Gilbert, and Wilson has also shown that we believe the rate of change in our lives slows down with age. In terms of core values, the researchers found that the magnitude of the end-of-story illusion also exists for core values, and while the magnitude in this case decreased with age, it was still present across all age groups of children. Kuoidbach’s team realized this, so they looked at data from a separate longitudinal study that actually tracked people over time (once in 95-96 and again at 04-06) to study effective personality change. [Sources: 6, 13, 14]

The EOHI evidence comes from several studies that compared people between 28 and 68 years old who were randomly assigned to: (a) report how much their personality, values, or preferences have changed from the past 10 years to the present, or (b ) Predict how much they will change in the next 10 years. According to EOHI, although past personal changes are reported, people of all ages must mistakenly predict that future changes will be too small. According to their research, the study involved more than 19,000 people between the ages of 18 and 68. This illusion lasted from adolescence to retirement. Based on their experiments, people seem to see now as a turning point in their lives, when they finally become who they will be for the rest of their lives. [Sources: 3, 7, 9]

This “end-of-story illusion” has had practical implications for making people pay extra for future opportunities to indulge their current preferences. Again, people reported more changes in their values ​​than they expected. For example, when asked about changes in tastes in music, people will report significant changes in tastes over the past decade, downplaying expected changes in tastes in the coming years. It would be easier to believe in the end of the illusory story if there were data about real changes than to rely on the participants’ memories of themselves in the past. [Sources: 5, 6, 10]

The problem is that we make decisions based on our current understanding of reality, not what we know might happen in the future. This is one of the reasons why so many relationships fail because people are stuck in the present and unable to plan for future challenges and growth opportunities. If we make decisions without thinking about our future, we may end up reactive lives without adequate planning or opportunities for personal growth. [Sources: 4, 7]

Let’s take a look at why this is important in our professional and personal life, and three simple steps to get rid of this illusion and better shape our future. The end-of-story illusion is a psychological illusion in which people of all ages believe that they have experienced significant personal growth and changes in tastes so far, but will not grow or mature substantially in the future. [Sources: 4, 14]


— Slimane Zouggari


##### Sources #####

[0]: https://www.insidehighered.com/blogs/stratedgy/%E2%80%9Cend-history-illusion%E2%80%9D

[1]: https://www.newristics.com/selling-to-those-resisting-change.php

[2]: https://www.science.org/doi/10.1126/science.1229294

[3]: https://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/04/science/study-in-science-shows-end-of-history-illusion.html

[4]: https://nesslabs.com/end-of-history-illusion

[5]: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/reality-play/201301/the-end-history-illusion

[6]: https://digest.bps.org.uk/2013/01/14/the-end-of-history-illusion-illusion/

[7]: https://www.theknowledge.io/end-of-history/

[8]: http://econowmics.com/end-of-history-illusion/

[9]: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S009265661930090X

[10]: https://marcfbellemare.com/wordpress/8260

[11]: https://medium.com/science-and-values/the-end-of-history-illusion-fa7226657185

[12]: https://longnow.org/ideas/02013/01/23/time-and-the-end-of-history-illusion/

[13]: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/essay-16-end-history-illusion-why-we-so-bad-future-jeff-guthrie

[14]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/End-of-history_illusion