Subjective Life Expectancy Among College Students

Alyssa E. Rodemann, Danielle Arigo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Establishing healthy habits in college is important for long-term health. Despite existing health promotion efforts, many college students fail to meet recommendations for behaviors such as healthy eating and exercise, which may be due to low perceived risk for health problems. The goals of this study were to examine: (1) the accuracy of life expectancy predictions, (2) potential individual differences in accuracy (i.e., gender and conscientiousness), and (3) potential change in accuracy after inducing awareness of current health behaviors. College students from a small northeastern university completed an electronic survey, including demographics, initial predictions of their life expectancy, and their recent health behaviors. At the end of the survey, participants were asked to predict their life expectancy a second time. Their health data were then submitted to a validated online algorithm to generate calculated life expectancy. Participants significantly overestimated their initial life expectancy, and neither gender nor conscientiousness was related to the accuracy of these predictions. Further, subjective life expectancy decreased from initial to final predictions. These findings suggest that life expectancy perceptions present a unique—and potentially modifiable—psychological process that could influence college students' self-care.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)314-323
Number of pages10
JournalBehavioral Medicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2 2018
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Applied Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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