A Longitudinal Study of Differences between Predicted, Actual, and Remembered Personal Change


We investigated people’s assessments of their own personal change over time, comparing predicted, actual, and recalled change in personality, values, and performance. On average, participants underestimated the absolute magnitude of their personal change in both prediction and recall. However, people specifically neglected negative future change, resulting in overly optimistic predictions of improvement. In contrast, recall of positive and negative change was relatively more balanced, such that assessments of past improvement were better calibrated on average. Our findings provide insight into how people think about their own identity over time and address disparate theories in the literature regarding predictions of personal stability versus improvement.

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