A Project of the University of Pennsylvania and the John Templeton Foundation

The end of history illusion

Published: January, 2013

Investigator(s): Other Investigator(s)

Journal: Science

Researcher(s): Quoidbach, J., Gilbert, D. T., & Wilson, T. D.


We measured the personalities, values, and preferences of more than 19,000 people who ranged in age from 18 to 68 and asked them to report how much they had changed in the past decade and/or to predict how much they would change in the next decade. Young people, middle-aged people, and older people all believed they had changed a lot in the past but would change relatively little in the future. People, it seems, regard the present as a watershed moment at which they have finally become the person they will be for the rest of their lives. This “end of history illusion” had practical consequences, leading people to overpay for future opportunities to indulge their current preferences.

JTF grant funded: No