The Least Likely of Times

  title={The Least Likely of Times},
  author={Carey K. Morewedge and Daniel T. Gilbert and Timothy D. Wilson},
  journal={Psychological Science},
  pages={626 - 630}
Atypical events are both memorable and unrepresentative of their class. We tested the hypotheses that (a) people tend to recall atypical instances of events, and (b) when they are unaware of this, they rely on these atypical instances in forecasting their affective reactions to future events. In three studies, participants who were asked to recall an instance of an event and participants who were asked to recall an atypical instance of an event recalled equally atypical instances. However, only… 

Tables from this paper

Not all past events are equal: biased attention and emerging heuristics in children's past-to-future forecasting.
Four- to 10-year-olds and adults (N = 265) responded to eight scenarios presented on an eye tracker. Each trial involved a character who encounters a perpetrator who had previously enacted positive
Bias in predicted and remembered emotion
The Least Likely Act
When people predict the future behavior of a person, thinking of that target as an individual decreases the accuracy of their predictions. The present research examined one potential source of this
Duration sensitivity depends on stimulus familiarity.
It is proposed that duration insensitivity occurs when stimuli are evaluated in isolation because they typically lack comparison information, and that duration neglect appears to be a particular case of insensitivity to unfamiliar attributes.
Remembering the best and worst of times: Memories for extreme outcomes bias risky decisions
An extreme-outcome rule is proposed, whereby this memory bias leads people to overweight the largest gains and largest losses, leading to more risk seeking for relative gains than for relative losses.
Predicting Emotional Reactions
My imagination versus your feelings: can personal affective forecasts be improved by knowing other peoples' emotions?
A proposed remedy for biased affective forecasts is to base judgments on the actual feelings of people (surrogates) currently experiencing the event, rather than using imagination which conjures an
Memory underpinnings of future intentions: Would you like to see the sequel?
It is shown that global judgments and episodic memories of a past experience contribute differentially to diverse kinds of future intentions, in agreement with the predictions of the accessibility-diagnosticity framework.
Thinking about the future because of the past: young children's knowledge about the causes of worry and preventative decisions.
Across age, females more often marked future events as uncertain, as well as predicted that people in ambiguous risk situations would feel worried due to past-to-future connections.
Motivational biases in memory for emotions
This research examined how individuals' motivations and goals were related to their memory for past emotional experiences. In two studies, participants rated how happy and anxious they felt while


Focalism: a source of durability bias in affective forecasting.
Evidence for a distraction interpretation is found, that people who think about future events moderate their forecasts because they believe that these events will reduce thinking about the focal event.
Affective Forecasting
People base many decisions on affective forecasts, predictions about their emotional reactions to future events. They often display an impact bias, overestimating the intensity and duration of their
Are affective events richly recollected or simply familiar? The experience and process of recognizing feelings past.
  • K. Ochsner
  • Psychology
    Journal of experimental psychology. General
  • 2000
Data suggest that greater recollection for affective events leads them to be more richly experienced in memory, and they are consistent with the idea that the states of remembering and knowing are experientially exclusive, whereas the processes underlying them are functionally independent.
Lessons from the Past: Do People Learn from Experience that Emotional Reactions Are Short-Lived?
Do people learn from experience that emotional reactions to events are often short-lived? Two studies indicate that it depends on whether the events are positive or negative. People who received
Immune neglect: a source of durability bias in affective forecasting.
The present experiments suggest that people neglect the psychological immune system when making affective forecasts.
Person Memory the Processing of Consistent and Inconsistent Person Information
Recall for behaviors that were either consistent or inconsistent with a previously presented set of uniform trait adjectives was studied. Similar to Hastie and Kumar (1979), recall for inconsistent
Duration neglect in retrospective evaluations of affective episodes.
Benefits of film duration on retrospective evaluations were small, entirely explained by changes in real-time affect and further reduced when made from memory, as if duration did not matter.
Insensitivity to sample bias: Generalizing from atypical cases
Two experiments were conducted to determine whether subjects take into account the representativeness of a sample before generalizing from the sample to a population. Subjects were presented with
What to Do on Spring Break?
Compared students' predicted, on-line, and remembered spring-break experiences, as well as the influence of these factors on students' desire to take a similar vacation in the future, suggest that although on- line measures may be superior to retrospective measures for approximating objective experience, retrospective measures may still be superior for predicting choice.
Predicting and remembering recurrent pain.