As might be expected, the overwhelming majority of participants — upwards of 85 percent — had no interest in learning about the bad stuff life had in store for them. More surprising, though, was the fact that people were also uninterested in learning about the good things: Depending on the question, somewhere between 40 to 70 percent preferred to remain in the dark.
There were some nuances: People were especially resistant to knowing things that would happen in the near future — the closer an event was to the present, the more likely they were to choose ignorance. (Age also played a role in this: Older participants were more okay with knowing how and when they would die, for example, while the younger ones had no interest in finding out.) And the more risk-averse someone was, the more likely they were to shy away from the idea of knowing what came next, while the opposite was true for people who frequently attended religious services. But overall, as lead author Gerd Gigerenzer, a researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development, summed up in a statement: “Deliberate ignorance, as we’ve shown here, doesn’t just exist; it is a widespread state of mind.” So widespread, in fact, only 1 percent of survey respondents said they’d want to know every single thing on the list. The good news is, for most things, we don’t really have a choice.