Ok, so you got Duran Duran tattooed on your knuckles 15 years ago (made you look, yep it does fit) and now you’ve got a serious case of ‘tattoo regret’.

It might not help in getting it removed, but at least you can take comfort in the fact that your tattoo regret now has it’s own psycholgical name – ‘End of History Illusion.’

The ‘End of History Illusion’ refers to the fact that people who look back on their past selves can see a significant change in their tastes, likes and dislikes over time, but when asked to predict the future, assume that their tastes will remain the same going forward.

One thinks of the soon-to-be-regretted tattoo, impulsive purchase of a dream home, or ill-fated marriage

– Pyschology Today

So if I look back at the younger me, I can see that my taste in clothes, in friends, in music and television have changed as I’ve matured, but even though I acknowledge this, I assume I’ve reached the ‘end of my development as a person’ and what I like now is what I’m going to like for the rest of my life.  I’ve reached the end of my (personal) history.

The study, conducted at Harvard University used a sample size of over 19,000 people aged from 18-69 and the results were pretty universal.  Looking back people can see that they’ve changed, but looking forward they assume they’ll stay the same.

And guess what? If you look here, here and here, getting a tattoo that you later regret is kind of the go-to example of the End of History Illusion.

So if you’re looking back on a tattoo with regret, and can’t quite understand what you were ever thinking, the answer is that the 20 year old you assumed that the 40 year old you would still think it was a totally awesome idea.

Dont worry mum im joining a band
Don’t worry mum I’m joining a band

And a gentle word of warning for anyone reading this who’s thinking of getting a tattoo:

  • If you’re thinking of getting a tattoo because ‘you’ll always like tattoo’s’ you might be suffering from End of History Illusion.
  • If you’re thinking of getting a tattoo of One Direction because they’re your all-time faves, your almost certainly suffering from End of History Illussion
  • If you’re thinking of getting a tattoo of One Direction above your collar-line because you’ll be joining a rock band and it won’t ever be an issue – please send us your photo – you’re the new poster-boy for End of History Illusion.

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