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The End of History Illusion (ICPSR 34516)

Principal Investigator(s): Quoidbach, Jordi, Harvard University; Gilbert, Daniel, Harvard University; Wilson, Timothy, University of Virginia


We measured the personalities, values, and preferences of more than 19,000 people who ranged in age from 18 to 68, and asked them to report how much they had changed in the past decade and/or to predict how much they would change in the next decade. Young people, middle-aged people, and older people all believed they had changed a lot in the past but would change relatively little in the future. People, it seems, regard the present as a watershed moment at which they have finally become the person they will be for the rest of their lives. This "end of history illusion" had practical consequences, leading people to overpay for future opportunities to indulge their current preferences.

Access Notes

  • These data are flagged as replication datasets and are distributed exactly as they arrived from the data depositor. ICPSR has not checked or processed this material. Users should consult the investigator(s) if further information is desired.

  • The public-use data files in this collection are available for access by the general public. Access does not require affiliation with an ICPSR member institution.


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Study Description


Quoidbach, Jordi, Daniel Gilbert, and Timothy Wilson. The End of History Illusion. ICPSR34516-v1. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2013-01-04. https://doi.org/10.3886/ICPSR34516.v1

Persistent URL: https://doi.org/10.3886/ICPSR34516.v1

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  • RIS (generic format for RefWorks, EndNote, etc.)
  • EndNote XML (EndNote X4.0.1 or higher)


This study was funded by:

  • National Science Foundation (BCS-0722132)

Scope of Study

Subject Terms:    personality, prediction, preferences, values

Smallest Geographic Unit:    county

Geographic Coverage:    Belgium, France, Global, Switzerland, United States

Time Period:   

  • 2011-11--2012-01

Date of Collection:   

  • 2011-11--2012-01

Unit of Observation:    individual

Universe:    Online survey on a TV French TV show Web site.

Data Type(s):    aggregate data, experimental data, survey data

Data Collection Notes:

Some data come from the MacArthur Foundation Survey of Midlife Development in the United States (MIDUS).

The zipped package contains SPSS, Excel, and Word files, which provide data, tables, and figures used in the publication.

These data are part of ICPSR's Publication-Related Archive and are distributed exactly as they arrived from the data depositor. ICPSR has not checked or processed this material. Users should consult the investigator(s) if further information is desired.


Sample:    "Leurs Secrets du Bonheur" ("Their Secrets of Happiness") is a French television show that aired on the channel France 2 from October 2011 to January 2012. It invited viewers to participate in social science studies at the show's Web site. We received permission to place a link to our studies on that Web site. Participants who clicked that link were assigned to one of our studies. Participants were given no financial compensation but were told before participating that they would receive feedback about their levels of wellbeing when the study was complete. Participants in Study 1, the follow-ups to Study 1, Study 2, and Study 3 were recruited via this method. Participants in Study 4 were recruited through the Amazon Mechanical Turk Web site.

Presence of Common Scales:    Ten Item Personality Inventory (TIPI)


Original ICPSR Release:   2013-01-04

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