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Most people don’t want to know their future


While it may seem that knowing our future could be the one thing everyone craves for, it turns out that most of us don’t want to know what’s in store for us in the future even if given a chance.

This is the finding of a new study published recently by the American Psychological Association wherein scientists found the people would rather decline to have the power to see the future and instead chose to avoid the suffering because of knowing the future. Most of the people would rather enjoy the suspense that pleasurable events provide.

Scientists found through two nationally representative studies that 85 to 90 per cent of people would not want to know about upcoming negative events, and 40 to 70 per cent preferred to remain ignorant of upcoming positive events. Only 1 percent of participants consistently wanted to know what the future held.

The researchers also found that people who prefer not to know the future are more risk averse and more frequently buy life and legal insurance than those who want to know the future. This suggests that those who choose to be ignorant anticipate regret. The length of time until an event would occur also played a role: Deliberate ignorance was more likely the nearer the event. For example, older adults were less likely than younger adults to want to know when they or their partner would die, and the cause of death.

Participants were asked about a large range of potential events, both positive and negative. For example, they were asked if they wanted to know who won a soccer game they had planned to watch later, what they were getting for Christmas, whether there is life after death and if their marriage would eventually end in divorce. Finding out the sex of their unborn child was the only item in the survey where more people wanted to know than didn’t, with only 37 percent of participants saying they wouldn’t want to know.

Although people living in Germany and Spain vary in age, education and other important aspects, the pattern of deliberate ignorance was highly consistent across the two countries, according to the article, including its prevalence and predictability.