Who Wants to Gaze into Their Future?
Do you really want to know your future? That is the question some researchers from the American Psychological Association asked.
Their study was published in the journal Psychological Review. It found that most people don’t want to know what their future holds for them, even if those future events could make them happy.
The study involved more than 2,000 adults in Germany and Spain. The researchers found the following:
– 85 to 90 percent of the people would not want to know about upcoming negative events
– 40 to 70 percent preferred to remain ignorant of upcoming positive events
– 1 percent of participants consistently wanted to know about their future
Averse to Future Knowledge
They also found that people who prefer not to know about their future were more averse to risk and bought more life and legal insurance, compared to those who want to know their future. It seems people who don’t want to know their future anticipate negative events more.
Another interesting finding is that the nearer the time to the possible future event, the more people prefer deliberate ignorance of that event.
For example, older people were less likely than younger adults to want to know when they or their partner would die, and the cause of death.
In the study, people were asked about different potential positive and negative events. The events ranged from who would win a football game, what they would get for Christmas, or if their marriage would end in divorce.
The one future information that most people did want to know was the gender of their unborn baby. Only 37 percent of the participants said they did not want to know this.
The demographics of the people from Germany and Spain in this study ranged widely. However, the pattern of deliberate ignorance was highly consistent across the two countries.
“Not wanting to know appears counterintuitive and may raise eyebrows, but deliberate ignorance, as we’ve shown here, doesn’t just exist; it is a widespread state of mind,” the researchers said.
It seems people are really averse to knowing much about their future.
How about you? Are you comfortable knowing things like when you will die or how long you will live?
Gerd Gigerenzer, Rocio Garcia-Retamero. Cassandra’s regret: The psychology of not wanting to know. Psychological Review, 2017; 124 (2). http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/rev0000055