There’s a troubling truth about self-knowledge and its limits: alarmingly often, when you’re faced with a big decision, you’re better off trusting the judgment of a friend – or even a stranger – than your own. To put it bluntly, you may be especially badly suited to figuring out whom you should marry, where you should live or what job you should do – precisely because you’re you.
For instance, according to a new study entitled “Your Friends Know When You’re Going To Die”, published in Psychological Science, if you want to predict the date of your death, you could do a lot worse than ask your friends. I don’t mean you should literally ask them to name a date. (That could cause some awkwardness at the restaurant table, I imagine.) But the things they know about you could still be the basis of the best estimate available.
Researchers found that your peers can predict your mortality, not because they’re psychic, but because a.) they know you—the real you, and the personality traits you possess (or don’t) that tend to affect longevity, and b.) there really is such a thing as crowd wisdom, if the crowd is comprised of people you know.
The study itself notes that it was conscientiousness and openness among men that predicted long life, but emotional stability and agreeableness (as rated by friends) that predicted many sunsets for women. And, in both cases, friends were better at predicting these traits than the self-reported assessments of the people themselves.