Congratulations - you have completed Future Self. You scored %%SCORE%% out of %%TOTAL%%. Your performance has been rated as %%RATING%%
Your answers are highlighted below.
It’s important to spend some time imagining your future self if you want to live a long and healthy life.
Question 1 Explanation:
Many people avoid thinking about what they themselves will be like and what they’ll need in later life. Whatever your age, what you do now—whether you exercise, make sensible food choices, save money to meet future needs, and so on—will determine the quality of your life in your later years. It’s not easy to motivate yourself to prepare for the future. But a multitude of studies have shown that when you’re young or in midlife, it’s important to think about your future, older self. If you don’t form a strong connection with the person you’ll be in your later years, you may not provide adequately for the physical and financial needs of that older self.
Ageist views can interfere with your ability to see yourself as an older person.
Question 2 Explanation:
Are you reluctant to think about the future, let alone plan for it? That may be because of our culture’s pervasive ageism, which persuades many Americans that later life is a time of dementia and decrepitude, and that older people are generally ill, confused and depressing to be around. Ageism is everywhere—you’ve probably been absorbing mistaken beliefs like that since childhood. And that could be why you avoid thinking about the fact that someday you’ll be an older adult yourself. Ageism is unique among biases: it prejudices you against the person you’ll be someday. If you believe that you too will be ill, confused and depressing to be around, you won’t want to think about aging. But with so many people living longer today—some into their early 100s—a slew of psychologists are experimenting with ways to help people get in touch with their future selves for the sake of their health and financial well-being.
It’s better to stay in the present than to wander into past or future time.
Question 3 Explanation:
Actually, what’s best is to strike a balance and not get stuck mentally in any particular time zone. For instance, it’s fine to enjoy your memories—unless you do too much of that or are swamped by regrets. You may feel most alive when you live more fully in the present, but you don’t want to be too much of a hedonist, constantly craving pleasure, stimulation and new experiences, or a fatalist, convinced you have little control over what happens to you. If you’re future-oriented, you’ll do things now for which your future self will be grateful, which is good—unless it turns you into a workaholic in the present.
As you age, your sense of connection to your past and future selves is likely to change.
Question 4 Explanation:
In your later years, research suggests, you’ll probably have fewer regrets and feel more satisfaction when you look back. You’ll also spend more time thinking about the near future, and when you focus on the present, you’re less likely to be a hedonist or fatalist. At the age of about 60, with fewer years to look forward to, you’re likely to shift your priorities and goals. Your social circle may shrink as you choose to spend more time with family and close friends. Your emotional life will become more important to you—and you’ll manage your feelings better.
Half of all Americans rarely (or never) think about what their lives will be like in the far future, say, 30 years from now.
Question 5 Explanation:
In addition, more than a quarter of Americans rarely or never think about what could happen even five years out. This has consequences for us and for society. Studies show that those who don’t often consider the future are less likely to vote or to care about long-term problems such as climate change, or to take care of their own health or save for that last third of adult life that usually constitutes retirement. This is important enough that universities are beginning to teach classes in future thinking.
The best way to motivate yourself to save for your later years is to visit a posh, active-adult community.
Question 6 Explanation:
There’s a much better way to motivate young and middle-aged people to take actions that will make a difference to their future, older selves: show them photos of their own faces that have been digitally aged. When experimenters do that in studies, their subjects’ future selves become more real to them, and they begin to care more about them. If they’re asked later whether they’d rather spend a hypothetical sum of money for things they want now or save it for retirement, they’re more likely to opt for saving. (Those who connect strongly with their future self also tend to make healthier choices about things like regular exercise.) Financial firm Merrill—aware of all of this and wanting to encourage people to save more—offers clients a chance to see a photo of their older self online.
You’ll prepare for your own longevity better if you write yourself a letter about how important exercise is for your whole life.
Question 7 Explanation:
Exercise is important, but there’s a better way to motivate yourself to do more of it: draft a letter about yourself to the person you’ll be in the future. Describe yourself and tell your older self what you care about and how you see your life. In one study, when subjects did that, many increased the time they spent exercising afterward. Regular exercise can lessen your risk of heart disease, cancer and diabetes, yet health experts say only 20 percent of American teens and adults get enough of it. One study found that as little as 15 minutes a day can add three years to your lifespan. It’s also the best way to make sure you’re healthy enough to get the most out of your later years.
Once you’ve reached midlife, your personality isn’t going to change much
Question 8 Explanation:
Most people realize they’ve changed a lot over the years. All the same, they’re certain their present self is who they truly are and always will be. This is called “the end of history illusion,” and according to a survey of more than 19,000 people between 18 and 68, individuals of all ages share this view. But studies show that values, preferences and even personality keep changing. Why the illusion then? Harvard psychologist Daniel Gilbert, PhD, notes that people find it comforting to believe that they know themselves and that the future is predictable. He adds that the older you are, the less you're likely to change in the coming years—though you'll still probably alter more than you expect.
When some people envision their future self, they see a total stranger.
Question 9 Explanation:
Studies done with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) show that the human brain responds differently when people are thinking about themselves than it does when they’re thinking about another person—especially a stranger or someone with whom they have nothing in common. Interestingly, when some individuals imagine their future self, their brain scan looks as if they’re thinking about a stranger. If they’re offered a hypothetical choice later between more money in the future or a smaller sum immediately, they usually choose the immediate payoff. UCLA psychologist Hal Hershfield, PhD, commented, “Why would you save money for your future self when, to your brain, it feels like you’re just handing away your money to a complete stranger?”
Older adults who experience bias against themselves because of their age say they don’t want to live a long life.
Question 10 Explanation:
Not true, but they don’t expect to live as well. In a series of studies, psychologists found that when older adults were exposed to ageist stereotypes, afterward they anticipated fewer opportunities in the future, and some expected more limitations on what they could do. The researchers noted that older people who see the future that way are less likely to take care of their health. In a 2020 University of Michigan national poll of older adults, more than 80 percent said they have often experienced ageism, including ageist attitudes in people they met and ageist bias in what they watched or read.
If you feel the present is fleeting and the future arrives right on its heels, you’re more likely to live for the present.
Question 11 Explanation:
On the contrary, if you feel the future is imminent, you’re more likely to prepare for it. Psychologists say everyone makes assumptions about where the boundary is between present and future time. Some feel it’s the present right now, and the future begins in the next second or within the next minute. Others say the present lasts an hour or a month or until some much-anticipated event occurs. (“My future will begin on my wedding day.”) Experimenters have found that those who feel the present is very short and ends soon, and the future begins immediately after that, are more likely to want to save for their later years and probably to get ready for those years in other ways as well. Why? One possibility is that feeling the future is imminent makes it seem that time is passing quickly, and it’s urgent to consider the years to come.
Once you are finished, click the button below. Any items you have not completed will be marked incorrect.
There are 11 questions to complete.