Assessing Future Possible Selves by Gender and Socioeconomic Status Using the Anticipated Life History Measure

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Abstract

This is a report from the first phase of a longitudinal study of the ways young adults imagine their future lives. The future possible selves of 223 18- and 19-year-old adults were examined using the Anticipated Life History measure (ALH), a psychological instrument prompting participants to describe their future life course from their 21st birthday until their death. When the ALH narratives were coded for presence/absence of life events, female participants were more likely to predict career choice, marriage, children, divorce, and death of spouse than their male counterparts; when coded for psychological qualities, female participants demonstrated greater psychological complexity and awareness of future life role choices and conflicts. Participants with lower SES wrote ALH narratives with fewer altruistic acts, less awareness of life role complexity, and fewer anticipated conflicts and their resolutions than those with higher SES.

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