Brandeis University psychologist Margie Lachman along with Christina Rocke of the University of Zurich, Christopher Rosnick of the Southern Illinois University and Carol Ryff of the University of Wisconsin conducted two surveys, the first in 1995-1996, and the second nine years later, between 2004 and 2006.
In the first survey, participants ages 24 to 74 completed a telephone interview and questionnaire to rate how they currently were satisfied with their lives, how satisfied they were with their lives 10 years earlier and how satisfied they expected to be 10 years later. In 2004, the participants were asked those same questions.
Lachman and colleagues discovered that younger and middle-aged adults believed life would be better than it turned out to be, but older adults were more realistic and gave accurate predictions on the future.
The research, published in Psychological Science, also showed older adults are not as sanguine about the future as younger adults, perhaps because they may realize this is as good as it gets.