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.
CHENG, S. T., FUNG, H. H., & CHAN, C. M. A. (2009). Self-perception and psychological well-being : the benefits of foreseeing a worse future. Psychology and Aging, 24(3), 623-633. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0016410