When it comes to tealeaves or tarot cards, most of us are less than enthused.
A new study published in the Psychological Review claims most people have zero desire to see the future, particularly if the impending event is something negative like death or divorce.
“In Greek mythology, Cassandra, daughter of the king of Troy, had the power to foresee the future. But, she was also cursed and no one believed her prophecies,” said lead author Gerd Gigerenzer of the Max Planck Institute for Human Development.
“In our study, we’ve found that people would rather decline the powers that made Cassandra famous, in an effort to forgo the suffering that knowing the future may cause, avoid regret and also maintain the enjoyment of suspense that pleasurable events provide.”
The research was conducted on 2,000 participants in Spain and Germany, and found that 85-90 percent would prefer to stay in the dark about any future negative events. When it came to positive future events, up to 70 percent still wanted to remain ignorant.
The researchers asked participants a variety of questions about whether they would like to know the outcomes of certain events, both positive and negative. The questions ranged from knowing what you were getting for Christmas to the date and cause of your eventual demise. In nearly every case, most people opted for “deliberate ignorance.”
Those who chose deliberate ignorance feared they would regret knowing the future, the researchers found. These same participants were also more likely to avoid certain risks and purchase life insurance
“Not wanting to know appears counterintuitive and may raise eyebrows,” said Gigerenzer. “But deliberate ignorance, as we’ve shown here, doesn’t just exist; it is a widespread state of mind.”
How very telling.