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TED, Dan Gilbert: The psychology of your future self

Dan Gilbert: The psychology of your future self

0:11At every stage of our lives we make decisions that will profoundly influence the lives of the people we're going to become, and then when we become those people, we're not always thrilled with the decisions we made. So young people pay good money to get tattoos removed that teenagers paid good money to get. Middle-aged people rushed to divorce people who young adults rushed to marry. Older adults work hard to lose what middle-aged adults worked hard to gain. On and on and on. The question is, as a psychologist, that fascinates me is, why do we make decisions that our future selves so often regret?

0:49Now, I think one of the reasons -- I'll try to convince you today — is that we have a fundamental misconception about the power of time. Every one of you knows that the rate of change slows over the human lifespan, that your children seem to change by the minute but your parents seem to change by the year. But what is the name of this magical point in life where change suddenly goes from a gallop to a crawl? Is it teenage years? Is it middle age? Is it old age? The answer, it turns out, for most people, is now, wherever now happens to be. What I want to convince you today is that all of us are walking around with an illusion, an illusion that history, our personal history, has just come to an end, that we have just recently become the people that we were always meant to be and will be for the rest of our lives.

1:43Let me give you some data to back up that claim. So here's a study of change in people's personal values over time. Here's three values. Everybody here holds all of them, but you probably know that as you grow, as you age, the balance of these values shifts. So how does it do so? Well, we asked thousands of people. We asked half of them to predict for us how much their values would change in the next 10 years, and the others to tell us how much their values had changed in the last 10 years. And this enabled us to do a really interesting kind of analysis, because it allowed us to compare the predictions of people, say, 18 years old, to the reports of people who were 28, and to do that kind of analysis throughout the lifespan.

2:24Here's what we found. First of all, you are right, change does slow down as we age, but second, you're wrong, because it doesn't slow nearly as much as we think. At every age, from 18 to 68 in our data set,people vastly underestimated how much change they would experience over the next 10 years. We call this the "end of history" illusion. To give you an idea of the magnitude of this effect, you can connect these two lines, and what you see here is that 18-year-olds anticipate changing only as much as 50-year-olds actually do.

3:00Now it's not just values. It's all sorts of other things. For example, personality. Many of you know that psychologists now claim that there are five fundamental dimensions of personality: neuroticism, openness to experience, agreeableness, extraversion, and conscientiousness. Again, we asked people how much they expected to change over the next 10 years, and also how much they had changed over the last 10 years, and what we found, well, you're going to get used to seeing this diagram over and over,because once again the rate of change does slow as we age, but at every age, people underestimate how much their personalities will change in the next decade.

3:40And it isn't just ephemeral things like values and personality. You can ask people about their likes and dislikes, their basic preferences. For example, name your best friend, your favorite kind of vacation,what's your favorite hobby, what's your favorite kind of music. People can name these things. We ask half of them to tell us, "Do you think that that will change over the next 10 years? " and half of them to tell us, "Did that change over the last 10 years? " And what we find, well, you've seen it twice now, and here it is again: people predict that the friend they have now is the friend they'll have in 10 years, the vacation they most enjoy now is the one they'll enjoy in 10 years, and yet, people who are 10 years older all say,"Eh, you know, that's really changed. " 4:26Does any of this matter? Is this just a form of mis-prediction that doesn't have consequences? No, it matters quite a bit, and I'll give you an example of why. It bedevils our decision-making in important ways. Bring to mind right now for yourself your favorite musician today and your favorite musician 10 years ago. I put mine up on the screen to help you along. Now we asked people to predict for us, to tell us how much money they would pay right now to see their current favorite musician perform in concert 10 years from now, and on average, people said they would pay 129 dollars for that ticket. And yet, when we asked them how much they would pay to see the person who was their favorite 10 years ago perform today, they say only 80 dollars. Now, in a perfectly rational world, these should be the same number, but we overpay for the opportunity to indulge our current preferences because we overestimate their stability.

5:23Why does this happen? We're not entirely sure, but it probably has to do with the ease of remembering versus the difficulty of imagining. Most of us can remember who we were 10 years ago, but we find it hard to imagine who we're going to be, and then we mistakenly think that because it's hard to imagine,it's not likely to happen. Sorry, when people say "I can't imagine that," they're usually talking about their own lack of imagination, and not about the unlikelihood of the event that they're describing.

5:52The bottom line is, time is a powerful force. It transforms our preferences. It reshapes our values. It alters our personalities. We seem to appreciate this fact, but only in retrospect. Only when we look backwards do we realize how much change happens in a decade. It's as if, for most of us, the present is a magic time. It's a watershed on the timeline. It's the moment at which we finally become ourselves. Human beings are works in progress that mistakenly think they're finished. The person you are right now is as transient, as fleeting and as temporary as all the people you've ever been. The one constant in our life is change.

6:39Thank you.

6:41(Applause)

Dan Gilbert: The psychology of your future self Dan Gilbert: Die Psychologie deines zukünftigen Ichs Dan Gilbert: The psychology of your future self Dan Gilbert: La psicología de tu yo futuro Dan Gilbert : La psychologie de votre futur moi ダン・ギルバート:未来の自分の心理学 Dan Gilbert: A psicologia do seu futuro eu Дэн Гилберт: Психология вашего будущего «я» Dan Gilbert: Gelecekteki benliğinizin psikolojisi Ден Гілберт: Психологія вашого майбутнього "я 丹·吉尔伯特:未来的自己的心理 丹吉伯特:未來的自己的心理

0:11At every stage of our lives we make decisions that will profoundly influence the lives of the people we're going to become, and then when we become those people, we're not always thrilled with the decisions we made. 0: 11 En cada etapa de nuestras vidas tomamos decisiones que influirán profundamente en las vidas de las personas en las que nos convertiremos, y luego, cuando nos convertimos en esas personas, no siempre estamos encantados con las decisiones que tomamos. 0:11Em cada estágio de nossas vidas, tomamos decisões que influenciarão profundamente a vida das pessoas que nos tornaremos, e quando nos tornamos essas pessoas, nem sempre ficamos entusiasmados com as decisões que tomamos. 0:11 На каждом этапе нашей жизни мы принимаем решения, которые сильно повлияют на жизнь людей, которыми мы собираемся стать, а затем, когда мы становимся этими людьми, мы не всегда в восторге от принятых решений. So young people pay good money to get tattoos removed that teenagers paid good money to get. Así que los jóvenes pagan una buena cantidad de dinero para que les quiten los tatuajes que los adolescentes pagan para obtener una buena cantidad de dinero. Então, os jovens pagam um bom dinheiro para remover tatuagens que os adolescentes pagam um bom dinheiro para fazer. Таким образом, молодые люди платят хорошие деньги за удаление татуировок, за которые подростки платили хорошие деньги. Middle-aged people rushed to divorce people who young adults rushed to marry. Las personas de mediana edad se apresuraron a divorciarse de las personas que los adultos jóvenes se apresuraron a casarse. Люди среднего возраста поспешили развестись с людьми, на которых молодые люди поспешили жениться. Older adults work hard to lose what middle-aged adults worked hard to gain. Los adultos mayores trabajan duro para perder lo que los adultos de mediana edad trabajaron mucho para ganar. Пожилые люди упорно трудятся, чтобы потерять то, что с таким трудом удалось приобрести людям среднего возраста. On and on and on. Una y otra y otra vez. The question is, as a psychologist, that fascinates me is, why do we make decisions that our future selves so often regret? La pregunta es, como psicólogo, lo que me fascina es, ¿por qué tomamos decisiones de las que el futuro nos arrepentimos tan a menudo? Меня, как психолога, интересует вопрос: почему мы принимаем решения, о которых так часто сожалеем в будущем?

0:49Now, I think one of the reasons -- I'll try to convince you today — is that we have a fundamental misconception about the power of time. 0: 49 Ahora, creo que una de las razones, trataré de convencerlo hoy, es que tenemos una idea equivocada fundamental sobre el poder del tiempo. Every one of you knows that the rate of change slows over the human lifespan, that your children seem to change by the minute but your parents seem to change by the year. Cada uno de ustedes sabe que la tasa de cambio se ralentiza a lo largo de la vida humana, que sus hijos parecen cambiar por minuto, pero sus padres parecen cambiar por año. But what is the name of this magical point in life where change suddenly goes from a gallop to a crawl? Pero, ¿cuál es el nombre de este punto mágico en la vida donde el cambio repentinamente va de un galope a un rastreo? Is it teenage years? ¿Es la adolescencia? Is it middle age? Is it old age? The answer, it turns out, for most people, is now, wherever now happens to be. Resulta que, para la mayoría de las personas, la respuesta es ahora, dondequiera que ahora se encuentre. What I want to convince you today is that all of us are walking around with an illusion, an illusion that history, our personal history, has just come to an end, that we have just recently become the people that we were always meant to be and will be for the rest of our lives. Lo que quiero convencerles hoy es que todos estamos caminando con una ilusión, la ilusión de que la historia, nuestra historia personal, acaba de llegar a su fin, que nos hemos convertido recientemente en las personas que siempre hemos querido ser. y será por el resto de nuestras vidas.

1:43Let me give you some data to back up that claim. 1: 43 Permítame darle algunos datos para respaldar esa afirmación. So here's a study of change in people's personal values over time. Así que aquí hay un estudio del cambio en los valores personales de las personas a lo largo del tiempo. Here's three values. Everybody here holds all of them, but you probably know that as you grow, as you age, the balance of these values shifts. Todos aquí los tienen todos, pero probablemente sepan que a medida que crecen, a medida que envejecen, el balance de estos valores cambia. So how does it do so? Entonces, ¿cómo lo hace? Well, we asked thousands of people. We asked half of them to predict for us how much their values would change in the next 10 years, and the others to tell us how much their values had changed in the last 10 years. Pedimos a la mitad de ellos que nos predijeran cuánto cambiarían sus valores en los próximos 10 años, y los demás nos dirán cuánto han cambiado sus valores en los últimos 10 años. And this enabled us to do a really interesting kind of analysis, because it allowed us to compare the predictions of people, say, 18 years old, to the reports of people who were 28, and to do that kind of analysis throughout the lifespan. Y esto nos permitió hacer un análisis realmente interesante, porque nos permitió comparar las predicciones de personas, por ejemplo, de 18 años, con los informes de personas que tenían 28 años, y hacer ese tipo de análisis a lo largo de la vida. E isso nos permitiu fazer um tipo de análise realmente interessante, porque nos permitiu comparar as previsões de pessoas, digamos, com 18 anos, com os relatos de pessoas com 28 anos, e fazer esse tipo de análise ao longo da vida.

2:24Here's what we found. First of all, you are right, change does slow down as we age, but second, you're wrong, because it doesn't slow nearly as much as we think. En primer lugar, tienes razón, el cambio disminuye a medida que envejecemos, pero en segundo lugar, te equivocas, porque no disminuye tanto como pensamos. Em primeiro lugar, você está certo, a mudança diminui à medida que envelhecemos, mas em segundo lugar, você está errado, porque não diminui tanto quanto pensamos. At every age, from 18 to 68 in our data set,people vastly underestimated how much change they would experience over the next 10 years. En todas las edades, desde los 18 a los 68 años en nuestro conjunto de datos, las personas subestimaron enormemente la cantidad de cambios que experimentarían en los próximos 10 años. We call this the "end of history" illusion. Llamamos a esto la ilusión del "fin de la historia". To give you an idea of the magnitude of this effect, you can connect these two lines, and what you see here is that 18-year-olds anticipate changing only as much as 50-year-olds actually do. Para darte una idea de la magnitud de este efecto, puedes conectar estas dos líneas, y lo que ves aquí es que los jóvenes de 18 años anticipan cambiar solo lo que realmente hacen las personas de 50 años.

3:00Now it's not just values. 3: 00Ahora no es solo valores. It's all sorts of other things. Es todo tipo de otras cosas. For example, personality. Many of you know that psychologists now claim that there are five fundamental dimensions of personality: neuroticism, openness to experience, agreeableness, extraversion, and conscientiousness. Muchos de ustedes saben que los psicólogos ahora afirman que hay cinco dimensiones fundamentales de la personalidad: neuroticismo, apertura a la experiencia, amabilidad, extraversión y conciencia. Again, we asked people how much they expected to change over the next 10 years, and also how much they had changed over the last 10 years, and what we found, well, you're going to get used to seeing this diagram over and over,because once again the rate of change does slow as we age, but at every age, people underestimate how much their personalities will change in the next decade. Nuevamente, preguntamos a las personas cuánto esperaban que cambiara en los próximos 10 años, y también cuánto habían cambiado en los últimos 10 años, y qué descubrimos, bueno, se acostumbrarán a ver este diagrama una y otra vez. Además, una vez más, la tasa de cambio disminuye a medida que envejecemos, pero a cada edad, las personas subestiman cuánto cambiarán sus personalidades en la próxima década.

3:40And it isn't just ephemeral things like values and personality. You can ask people about their likes and dislikes, their basic preferences. For example, name your best friend, your favorite kind of vacation,what's your favorite hobby, what's your favorite kind of music. People can name these things. We ask half of them to tell us, "Do you think that that will change over the next 10 years? " and half of them to tell us, "Did that change over the last 10 years? " And what we find, well, you've seen it twice now, and here it is again: people predict that the friend they have now is the friend they'll have in 10 years, the vacation they most enjoy now is the one they'll enjoy in 10 years, and yet, people who are 10 years older all say,"Eh, you know, that's really changed. "Y lo que encontramos, bueno, lo has visto dos veces ahora, y aquí está de nuevo: la gente predice que el amigo que tienen ahora es el amigo que tendrán en 10 años, las vacaciones que más disfrutan ahora es la única disfrutarán en 10 años y, sin embargo, las personas que son 10 años mayores dicen: "Eh, sabes, eso realmente ha cambiado. " 4:26Does any of this matter? 4: 26¿Algo de esto importa? Is this just a form of mis-prediction that doesn't have consequences? No, it matters quite a bit, and I'll give you an example of why. No, importa un poco, y te daré un ejemplo de por qué. It bedevils our decision-making in important ways. Asola nuestra toma de decisiones de manera importante. Bring to mind right now for yourself your favorite musician today and your favorite musician 10 years ago. Recuerda ahora mismo tu músico favorito hoy y tu músico favorito hace 10 años. I put mine up on the screen to help you along. Puse la mía en la pantalla para ayudarte. Now we asked people to predict for us, to tell us how much money they would pay right now to see their current favorite musician perform in concert 10 years from now, and on average, people said they would pay 129 dollars for that ticket. Ahora le pedimos a la gente que prediga por nosotros, que nos diga cuánto dinero pagarían en este momento para ver a su músico favorito actual actuar en un concierto dentro de 10 años, y en promedio, la gente dijo que pagaría 129 dólares por ese boleto. And yet, when we asked them how much they would pay to see the person who was their favorite 10 years ago perform today, they say only 80 dollars. Y, sin embargo, cuando les preguntamos cuánto pagarían para ver a la persona que fue su favorita hace 10 años, hoy solo dicen 80 dólares. Now, in a perfectly rational world, these should be the same number, but we overpay for the opportunity to indulge our current preferences because we overestimate their stability. Ahora, en un mundo perfectamente racional, estos deberían ser el mismo número, pero pagamos de más por la oportunidad de satisfacer nuestras preferencias actuales porque sobrestimamos su estabilidad.

5:23Why does this happen? We're not entirely sure, but it probably has to do with the ease of remembering versus the difficulty of imagining. No estamos del todo seguros, pero es probable que tenga que ver con la facilidad de recordar, en lugar de la dificultad de imaginar. Most of us can remember who we were 10 years ago, but we find it hard to imagine who we're going to be, and then we mistakenly think that because it's hard to imagine,it's not likely to happen. La mayoría de nosotros podemos recordar quiénes éramos hace 10 años, pero nos cuesta imaginar quiénes vamos a ser, y luego pensamos erróneamente que es difícil imaginarlo porque es difícil de imaginar. Sorry, when people say "I can't imagine that," they're usually talking about their own lack of imagination, and not about the unlikelihood of the event that they're describing. Lo sentimos, cuando la gente dice "No puedo imaginar eso", por lo general hablan de su propia falta de imaginación y no de la improbabilidad del evento que están describiendo. Désolé, quand les gens disent «je ne peux pas imaginer ça», ils parlent généralement de leur propre manque d'imagination, et non de l'improbabilité de l'événement qu'ils décrivent.

5:52The bottom line is, time is a powerful force. 5: 52La conclusión es que el tiempo es una fuerza poderosa. It transforms our preferences. Transforma nuestras preferencias. It reshapes our values. Se remodela nuestros valores. It alters our personalities. We seem to appreciate this fact, but only in retrospect. Only when we look backwards do we realize how much change happens in a decade. It's as if, for most of us, the present is a magic time. It's a watershed on the timeline. Es una línea divisoria en la línea de tiempo. It's the moment at which we finally become ourselves. Es el momento en el que finalmente nos convertimos en nosotros mismos. Human beings are works in progress that mistakenly think they're finished. Los seres humanos son obras en progreso que erróneamente piensan que están terminadas. The person you are right now is as transient, as fleeting and as temporary as all the people you've ever been. La persona que eres ahora es tan transitoria, tan fugaz y tan temporal como todas las personas que has sido. The one constant in our life is change. La única constante en nuestra vida es el cambio.

6:39Thank you.

6:41(Applause)