Possible Selves: How Self-Perception of the Future Applies to Older Adults

  • Megan Hervey Grinnell College
  • Victoria Tsou Grinnell College


Possible selves research suggests that goals and perceptions of the future shape human development and behavior (Cross & Markus, 1991). Although previous research demonstrates age-related differences in possible selves across time, older adults are not often included in possible selves discourse (Ryff, 1991). To better understand the diversity of possible selves across age, we conducted an interview with 13 older adults at the Mayflower retirement community in Grinnell, Iowa. Through our retrospective study, participants were asked to report the number and type of goals across their lifetime, satisfaction at different points in life, and concerns about health and social life domains over time. Results indicate that older adults recalled more specific and less global goals at old age as compared to young age. Further, participants recalled more global and less specific goals in young adulthood. Our findings support the theory that older adults use goal accommodation to achieve a closer fit between their ideal and actual selves (Ryff, 1991).

How to Cite
HERVEY, Megan; TSOU, Victoria. Possible Selves: How Self-Perception of the Future Applies to Older Adults. Grinnell Undergraduate Research Journal, [S.l.], v. 3, n. 1, p. 42-48, june 2016. Available at: <https://ojs.grinnell.edu/index.php/gcurj/article/view/433>. Date accessed: 24 june 2018.