First Systematic Study of the Advice People Would Give to Their Younger Selves

Posted on June 10, 2019

Robin Kowalski and Annie McCord from the Clemson University have done a study in two surveys of hundreds of participants on Amazon’s Mechanical Turk website. The results show that people’s advice to their younger selves are often about their prior relationships (e.g., Don’t Marry Her), educational opportunities (e.g., Go to College) and personal worth (e.g., Keep taking chances). These topics closely match the most common topics mentioned in research on people’s regrets.

Many participants report that the advice they offer would be tied to a pivotal event from their past, such as a time that they were bullied, a relationship breakup and about half the time they had regret for what had happened. The timing of such pivotal events usually occurs between 10 – 30 years old. The timing for these events could be explained by the Reminiscence bump – a term to explain why people tend to recall more memories from our teens and early adulthood.

Majority of the participants further said that following their advice would have brought their younger selves closer to the kind of person they aspired to be, rather than making them the kind of person that other people or society said they should be. Furthermore, participants who mentioned that they had followed their own advice (to their younger selves) were more likely to become the kind of person their younger selves would respect. Indeed, data derived from the study has shown that there is a lot to be learned that can facilitate our well-being and bring us closer to the person we would like to be if we were to follow that advice.

The two studies were conducted with similar participants, all to be aged at least 30 years. They were asked to give either three pieces or one piece of advice to their younger selves, to reflect if this advice would help them become the person they aspire to be or imagined to be. This is a preliminary research on an unexplored topic and it is possible that the results might differ in other cultures, using other methods of collecting people’s reflections. However, the work lays the foundation for further questions, like how the advice might affect our emotions and hopes for the future. This initial foray of advice to one’s younger self raises many interesting research questions, many of which will hopefully be examined in months and years to come.

Category(s):Adjusting to Change / Life Transitions, Health Psychology, Life Purpose / Meaning / Inner-Guidance

Source material from Here