Archive for April 21st, 2014

April 21, 2014

End-of-history Illusion

looking back by Mikel Casal

The end-of-history illusion is a ubiquitous psychological illusion in which teenagers and adults of all ages believe that they have consistently experienced significant personal growth and changes in tastes until now, but will somehow not continue to grow and mature in the future. That is, despite knowing how much they have changed in the last ten years, they believe that ten years from now, they will think and feel the same as they do today. It is thought that the illusion is related to a failure of imagination or an inflated sense of how wonderful they are at the moment.

Because they compare their current maturity against their immature childhood selves and see progress, teenagers believe that they are mature. When those same people look back at their teenage selves from middle age, they are amused or chagrined to think that they once thought their teenage selves so mature—but they make the same error of assuming that their middle-aged selves are fully development. As seniors, they look back at their middle-aged selves with the same amusement, and yet they repeat the mistake once again, by assuming that no significant growth or change is possible for the future.