It seems reasonable that people would want to maximize various aspects of life if they were given the opportunity to do so, whether it’s the pleasure they feel, how intelligent they are, or how much personal freedom they have. In actuality, people around the world seem to aspire for more moderate levels of these and other traits, according to findingspublished in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.
“Our research shows that people’s sense of perfection is surprisingly modest,” says psychological scientist Matthew J. Hornsey of the University of Queensland, first author on the research. “People wanted to have positive qualities, such as health and happiness, but not to the exclusion of other darker experiences – they wanted about 75% of a good thing.”
Furthermore, people said, on average, that they ideally wanted to live until they were 90 years old, which is only slightly higher than the current average life expectancy. Even when participants imagined that they could take a magic pill guaranteeing eternal youth, their ideal life expectancy increased by only a few decades, to a median of 120 years old. And when people were invited to choose their ideal IQ, the median score was about 130 – a score that would classify someone as smart, but not a genius.
The data also revealed that participants from holistic cultures – those that value notions of contradiction, change, and context – chose ideal levels of traits that were consistently lower than those reported by participants from nonholistic cultures.
“Interestingly, the ratings of perfection were more modest in countries that had traditions of Buddhism and Confucianism,” says Hornsey. “This makes sense — these Eastern philosophies and religions tend to place more emphasis on the notion that seemingly contradictory forces coexist in a complementary, interrelated state, such that one cannot exist without the other.”
In one study, Hornsey and colleagues analyzed data from a total of 2,392 participants in Australia, Chile, China, Hong Kong, India, Japan, Peru, Russia, and the United States. The researchers classified China, Hong Kong, India, and Japan as holistic cultures, predominantly influenced by religions or philosophies (such as Buddhism, Hinduism, or Taoism) that emphasize a more holistic worldview. They classified the other five regions – Australia, Chile, Peru, Russia, and the United States – as nonholistic cultures.[…]
Source: Around the world, people have surprisingly modest notions of the ‘ideal’ life – ScienceBlog.com