When and Why People Misestimate Future Feelings: Identifying Strengths and Weaknesses in Affective Forecasting

  title={When and Why People Misestimate Future Feelings: Identifying Strengths and Weaknesses in Affective Forecasting},
  author={Heather C. Lench and Linda J. Levine and Kenneth A. Perez and Zari Koelbel Carpenter and Steven J Carlson and Shane W. Bench and Yidou Wan},
  journal={Journal of Personality and Social Psychology},
People try to make decisions that will improve their lives and make them happy, and to do so, they rely on affective forecasts–predictions about how future outcomes will make them feel. Decades of research suggest that people are poor at predicting how they will feel and that they commonly overestimate the impact that future events will have on their emotions. Recent work reveals considerable variability in forecasting accuracy. This investigation tested a model of affective forecasting that… 

Figures and Tables from this paper

Negative Valence Effect in Affective Forecasting: The Unique Impact of the Valence Among Dispositional and Contextual Factors for Certain Life Events
Decades of research on affective forecasting have shown a persistent intensity bias—a strong tendency by which people overestimate their future hedonic response for positive events and underestimate
Affective Forecasts for the Experience Itself: An Investigation of the Impact Bias during an Affective Experience
Research documents that forecasts about the emotional consequences of decisions are prone to error. However, there is relatively little known about affective forecasts regarding engaging in
Subclinical psychopathology and affective forecasting: Role of in-the-moment feelings.
It is highlighted that in-the-moment feelings may be an intervention target to help people who have difficulties with social interactions to anticipate more pleasure for future social events.
Surprisingness and Occupational Engagement Influence Affective Forecasting in Career-Relevant Contexts
People tend to misestimate their future emotions. This phenomenon is thought to be associated with information accessibility. However, few studies have demonstrated the impact of context-specific
Predicted and remembered emotion: tomorrow’s vividness trumps yesterday’s accuracy
Findings reveal asymmetries in the phenomenological experience of predicting and remembering emotion and the vividness of predicted emotion serves as a powerful subjective signal of accuracy even when predictions turn out to be wrong.
Affective forecasting and ex-offender hiring decisions
With over 600,000 Americans released from jails and prisons each year, it is increasingly important to understand the challenges that ex-offenders face when they attempt to reintegrate into society.
Affective forecasting: A selective relationship with working memory for emotion.
A reliable and selective relationship between AWM and AF is demonstrated, suggesting that AWM is a separable working memory subsystem and an elemental capacity that contributes to the type of higher-order emotional processes involved in AF.
On the causes and interventions of affective forecasting bias
: Affective forecasting bias is a type of separation phenomenon between affective forecasting and affective experience. According to the literature from the past decade (2009~2019), the popular
Perceived importance of affective forecasting in cancer treatment decision making
It is found that patients believe it is important to understand how treatments will impact their emotional well-being and oncology clinicians should discuss with patients these consequences during healthcare decision-making.
Remembering facts versus feelings in the wake of political events
Having a good grasp of the facts did not protect against bias in remembering feelings about political events, and no association was found between the accuracy of memory for facts and feelings.


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
The Accuracy or Inaccuracy of Affective Forecasts Depends on How Accuracy Is Indexed
Affective forecasting—the process in which individuals predict how they will feel at some point in the future—has become a major topic of research interest in social psychology (Kushlev & Dunn,
Highly accurate prediction of emotions surrounding the attacks of September 11, 2001 over 1-, 2-, and 7-year prediction intervals.
The theories of affective forecasting are extended by showing that emotional responses to an event of ongoing national significance can be predicted with high accuracy, and by identifying current and remembered feelings as independent sources of this accuracy.
Motivated underpinnings of the impact bias in affective forecasts.
The results of four experiments suggest that affective forecasters may strategically overestimate the hedonic impact of events to motivate their production, providing the first support for this hypothesis.
Forgetting feelings: Opposite biases in reports of the intensity of past emotion and mood.
Two opposing biases in the magnitude and direction of bias depend on the type of feeling being recalled: emotion or mood: emotion and mood.
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.
Focalism and the underestimation of future emotion: when it's worse than imagined.
Failing to account for the extent to which context would focus attention on the event led to underestimation of emotional reactions to a negative event.
Abstract People often overestimate the impact future events will have on their happiness. People may also show a retrospective impact bias, overestimating the impact of past events on their
Like Schrödinger's cat, the impact bias is both dead and alive: reply to Wilson and Gilbert (2013).
It is concluded that the impact bias, which encompasses overestimating the intensity of feelings about events and overestimates theintensity of feelings in general, is both dead and alive.
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.