Your life satisfaction will change more than you think: A comment on Harris and Busseri (2019)

Published on Jun 1, 2020in Journal of Research in Personality
· DOI :10.1016/J.JRP.2020.103937
Jordi Quoidbach20
Estimated H-index: 20
(Ramon Llull University),
Daniel T. Gilbert65
Estimated H-index: 65
(Harvard University),
Timothy D. Wilson78
Estimated H-index: 78
(UVA: University of Virginia)
Abstract Harris and Busseri [Harris, H., & Busseri, M.A. (2019). Is there an ‘end of history illusion’ for life satisfaction? Evidence from a three-wave longitudinal study. Journal of Research in Personality, 83, 103869] examined the changes in life satisfaction people predicted vs. experienced for 30-years based on the three waves of the Midlife in the United States (MIDUS) survey. They conclude that “Contrary to the EOHI [end of history illusion], most individuals either were accurate or anticipated too much change into the future, rather than too little” (abstract). Examining these same data we arrive at the opposite conclusion, that people systematically underestimate future changes to their life satisfaction. The discrepancy arises because Harris and Busseri find stability in the average life satisfaction across the entire sample, while we find instability in life satisfaction within individuals. Both of these can happen. Although the average altitude of all the elevators in a skyscraper is remarkably stable over time, the altitude of each elevator changes by the second.
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