Getting What You Expect? Future Self-Views Predict the Valence of Life Events

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Views on aging have been shown to predict the occurrence of events related to physical health in previous studies. Extending these findings, we investigated the relation between aging-related future self-views and life events in a longitudinal study across a range of different life domains. Participants (N = 593, age range 30 – 80 years at t1) completed a survey at 2 measurement occasions that were separated by a 4-year interval (t1: 2009, t2: 2013), providing information on domain-specific future self-views as well as on life events that had occurred in the respective domains in-between the 2 measurement occasions. Future self-views measured at t1 predicted the occurrence of subsequent life events corresponding in valence: Participants with more positive (negative) future self-views in a domain reported relatively more positive (negative) life events in the respective domain. In addition, individual differences in future self-views were reinforced by life events that were consistent with these self-views. Accordingly, future self-views can be interpreted in terms of self-fulfilling prophecies: They are related to the likelihood of encountering and remembering life events that further confirm the aging-related future self-views from which they originate. Our study demonstrates the importance of future self-views on aging for development-related outcomes that have an especially high impact on peoples’ lives.

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