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Life Decisions are made during Birthday Years Ending in a “9”

Update Date: Nov 21, 2014 01:07 PM EST

When people turn any age that ends with a nine, such as 19, 29 and 39, they are more likely to make life decisions, a new study reported. According to the research team composed of Adam Alter from NYU Stern School of Business Professor and Professor Hal Hershfield from UCLA Anderson School of Management, starting a new decade in age can be either good or bad.

"Years 30, 40, 50, they're psychologically consequential," Hershfield told The Washington Post in an interview. "They seem big, they seem looming and they seem more important to us than the others. They make us step back and think about how things have been going up until then and how we want them to go moving forward."

The researchers conducted six studies to examine the link between birthday age and life altering decisions. In the first two studies, the team analyzed information on 42,063 adults who were from more than 100 nations. The participants had completed the World Values Survey. The team discovered that people who were starting a new decade year in their life were more likely to question the point/meaningfulness of their life.

In the third study, the team examined data on more than eight million male participants who were on a dating website linked to helping people seek out extramarital affairs. The researchers found that men who were aged 29, 39, 49 and 59 were about 18 percent more likely to be on the website. In the fourth study, the team looked at suicide rates within the U.S. between 2000 and 2011 and found that people with ages ending in a nine had suicide rates that were 2.4 percent higher.

In the last two studies, the researchers looked at physical fitness data taken from the Athlinks website. In the first one, the team found that runners ran two percent faster at the ages of 29 and 39 than they did before and after turning those ages. In the other study, the researchers found that out of 500 new marathon runners, there were 25 percent more runners whose ages ended in a nine.

"Our research suggests that people who are nearing the end of a decade may be more likely to make large purchases (e.g., buy life insurance, invest in retirement savings, pursue cosmetic surgery, etc.). Being aware of the tendency to do so can help consumers decide if they are making such decisions for the right reasons," the authors added according to Medical Xpress.

"I think that people use decades and the crossing from one decade into the next as a marker, a time to reflect on the state of their lives. I think it's very common," chief of psychology at University Hospitals Case Medical Center Jeff Janata, who was not involved in this study commented, said reported by ABC News. "What we're really talking about is anticipation more than we are arrival."

The study, "People Search for Meaning When They Approach a New Decade in Chronological Age," was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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