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Who Wants to Live a Long Life?

Last update on: Feb 13 2020

I used to think everybody wanted to maximize their living years. It turns out that research over the years found out that’s not the case. The latest research is here. Many people want to live less than life expectancy. The responses also vary by factors such as race, sex, current age, and other factors. Apparently, many people have a dim view of aging. They believe it is inevitable that after a certain age they will lose mobility and other faculties. They say they don’t want to live that way and want to die while all their faculties are fully functional.

The results, which were controlled for overall happiness, confirmed that having fewer positive old age expectations was associated with the preference to die before reaching average life expectancy. On the contrary, having fewer negative old expectations was associated with the preference to live either somewhat longer or much longer than average life expectancy.

“Having rather bleak expectations of what life will be like in old age seems to undermine the desire to live up to and beyond current levels of average life expectancy,” said first author Catherine Bowen, PhD and expert on mental representations of old age and the aging process. “People who embrace the ‘better to die young’ attitude may underestimate their ability to cope with negative age-related life experiences as well as to find new sources of well-being in old age.”



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