Both young people and older people think that young people are happier than older people — when in fact research has shown the opposite.
Older people “mis-remember” how happy they were as youths, just as youths “mis-predict” how happy (or unhappy) they will be as they age.
The study is published in the June issue of the Journal of Happiness Studies, a major research journal in the field of positive psychology.
“Overall, people got it wrong, believing that most people become less happy as they age, when in fact this study and others have shown that people tend to become happier over time,” says lead author Heather Lacey, Ph.D., a VA postdoctoral fellow and member of the U-M Medical School’s Center for Behavioral and Decision Sciences in Medicine. “Not only do younger people believe that older people are less happy, but older people believe they and others must have been happier ‘back then’. Neither belief is accurate.”
The findings have implications for understanding young people’s decisions about habits — such as smoking or saving money — that might affect their health or finances later in life. They also may help explain the fear of aging that drives middle-aged people to “midlife crisis” behavior in a vain attempt to slow their own aging.
Stereotypes about aging abound in our society, link