Self-perception and psychological well-being : the benefits of foreseeing a worse future

Sheung Tak CHENG, Helene H. FUNG, Cheung Ming, Alfred CHAN

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

57 Citations (Scopus)


This study examined whether having a negative expectation of the future may protect well-being in old age. Participants were 200 adults age 60 years or older who rated their current and future selves in the physical and social domains at 2 time points over a 12-month period. Structural equation modeling revealed that future self was positively related to well-being concurrently; yet, it was negatively related to well-being 12 months later, after the authors had controlled for symptoms and current self. Moreover, individuals who underestimated their future selves had higher well-being 12 months later than did those who overestimated their future selves. Findings are interpreted in a framework of discounting: Older adults may actively construct representations of the future that are consistent with the normative age-related declines and losses, so that the effects of these declines and losses are lessened when they actually occur.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)623-633
Number of pages11
JournalPsychology and Aging
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2009


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