We are products of past events and experiences, but only a few of them linger in our memory to affect our present lives. The current research examined whether there are individual differences in how far people look back to judge their present life satisfaction using the evolutionary framework of life history theory. The results showed that perceived ecological uncertainty interacts with a key aspect of life history strategy (childhood socioeconomic status; SES) to influence the span of retrospective mental time travel. When asked to list past events that had crossed their minds during life satisfaction judgments, individuals who grew up in low-SES environments mentioned more recent events, whereas individuals who grew up in high-SES environments wrote more distant past events. This difference was found only when the perception of ecological uncertainty was high, but not when it was low. It appears that life history strategy shapes people's retrospective lens during life satisfaction judgments.
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