Affective Forecasting: How Happy or Sad Will You Be?

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Affective Forecasting: How Happy or Sad Will You Be? Slide 2 Lectures 11 & 12: Affective Forecasting Wilson, T.D., & Gilbert, D.T. (2003). Affective forecasting. Advances in Experimental Social Psychology, 35, 345-411. Slide 3 Straight From the Horses Mouth Slide 4 The Power of a Crystal Ball: Predicting the Future (fat wallets & hot dates) Self-Projection where will I be? what will I be doing? who will I be doing it with? Decision Making uncertainty (Kahneman & Tversky, 2000) accuracy (Osberg & Shrauger, 1986) temporal perspective (Trope & Liberman, 2004) biases in prediction (Armor & Taylor, 1998) Whats missing? anticipating events vs. anticipating feelings Slide 5 Forecasting Feelings: How Happy Will I Be? How much happiness will events bring? How long will happiness last? Will owning a sportscar make me happy? Will a cool drink be more refreshing than an ice-cream? Marrying which twin will bring more happiness in the long run? AFFECTIVE FORECASTING (measuring predicted and experienced emotional responses - accuracy) Slide 6 Predicting Ones Emotions: Types of Affective Forecasts and Errors Affective Forecasts - 4 components (1) predictions about the valence of ones feelings (2) specific emotions that will be experienced (3) intensity of the emotions (4) duration of emotions Slide 7 Predicting Valence Are people mistaken about the valence of future events? Wilson et al. (2002) - staged a dating game in which students competed with a same-sex student for a hypothetical date with an opposite-sex student. Experiences were randomly assigned to win or lose the date, after which they rated their mood. Forecasters estimated what their mood would be if they won or lost the date. All forecasters estimated that they would be in a better mood if they won than lost (which mirrored the actual judgments of the experiencers). However, forecasters overestimated how positive or negative they would feel. Slide 8 Predicting Specific Emotions While people are quite accurate at forecasting what they will feel - when exactly an event will take place shapes their reactions. Liberman et al. (2002) - noted that people have overly simplistic reactions to emotional events when thinking about the distant (compared to the near) future. good day tomorrow (positive events with a few negative occurrences) good day in a year (people only report positive events) Thus, peoples forecasts may be more realistic for events that will happen soon, but onverly simplistic for events far in the future. Slide 9 Predicting Intensity and Duration Ive won the lottery. How happy will I feel? For how long will I be happy? Ive dumped my partner. How sad will I feel? How long will the pain last? Slide 10 Some Initial Observations: Duration, Duration, Duration Durability Bias People have a tendency to overestimate the duration of their future emotional reactions (Gilbert et al., 1998) How happy will you feel the day after your favourite team wins an important game? people overestimate their happiness (Wilson et al., 2000) - but what is biased (i) estimation of happiness, (ii) reduction in happiness over time, or (iii) both? Slide 11 Durability Reconsidered Impact Bias People have a tendency to overestimate the enduring impact that future events will have on their emotional reactions (Gilbert, Driver-Linn, & Wilson, 2002). overestimate intensity underestimate rate of dissipation Slide 12 Exploring the Impact Bias impact bias = most prevalent forecasting error people overestimate the impact of future events on their emotional reactions People (college students, professors, sports fans, dieters, holiday makers, snake phobics, medical test takers) Events (romantic breakups, personal insults, sports victories, electoral defeats, failure to lose weight, results of pregnancy tests) So why does the impact bias occur? Why does affective forecasting go awry? Slide 13 Process of Affective Forecasting Wilson & Gilbert (2002) Slide 14 Affective Forecasting: Sources of Error Construal - bringing the event to mind! traffic jam vs. getting married (having a baby) The problem of misconstrual - people mistakenly imagine the wrong event. How will your wedding day unfold? romantic bliss vs. stressful, fight with in-laws, food poisoning. The future doesnt always match our expectancies? Slide 15 1. Misconstrual Woodzicka and LaFrance (2001) asked women to predict how they would react if asked sexually harassing questions (3) during a job interview (and compared these reactions with the behaviour of women who experienced such questions). 68% of forecasters said they would refuse to answer at least 1 of the 3 questions; 28% said they would confront the interviewer This was completely at odds with the behaviour of the experiencers. Why? The forecasters imagined a different situation than the one confronted by the experiencers (i.e., not always easy to approach and confront a harasser). Misconstruals of future situations provide the greatest latitude of affective forecasting errors (as there is no limit to how inaccurate peoples construals can be) Slide 16 2. Framing Effects Representations of events also depend on the way in which people frame them, such as the particular aspects of events that capture their attention. Isolation Effect - people disregard components that alternatives share and focus on components that distinguish between them (Kahneman & Tversky, 1979) What will make me most happya holiday by the ocean or a weekend break in a large city? sometimes shared features are important! Slide 17 Location, Location, Location Dunn, Wilson & Gilbert (2003) asked college students to forecast what their overall level of happiness would be the following year if they lived in various campus dorms (random assignment to dorms)- peoples forecasts were much more a function of their ratings of the physical features (which varied considerably) than the common social features (good relationships with other members of the dorm). this resulted in a strong impact bias, by focusing too much on a variable that distinguished the dorms, people overestimated the effect of dorm assignment on happiness. predictedactual undesirable dorm3.435.37 desirable dorm5.965.45 Slide 18 Consequences of Framing Framing effects would produce an impact bias if people focus their attention on features that they think will influence their emotional states but that actually will be of little importance. Dunn, Wilson & Gilbert (2003) So, construal and framing. Any other important factors? Slide 19 3. Recall and Affective Theories Imagine that misconstrual and framing effects have been avoided, the next important step is bringing to mind an accurate representation of the future event. previously experienced events (e.g., root canal work) = how did it make me feel in the past? So how accurate is memory for past emotional experiences? Slide 20 What do We Remember? Memories are reconstructed not replayed. People can remember that root canal treatment is painful, but the pain itself is not stored in memory in a form that can be retrieved later. Instead of replaying past emotions, people recall details of an experience and have emotional reactions to these memories (e.g., the sound of the drill, the pizza in Venice). As such, there is no guarantee that the feelings evoked by these memories are the same as the feelings they originally experienced. Episodic details disappear, theories take over (Robinson & Clore, 2002) Slide 21 Mood and Menstruation McFarland, Ross and DeCourville (1989) noted that many women hold the theory that they are in worse moods during menstruation and recall being in bad moods during their periods. however, when asked to rate their mood on a daily basis for several weeks, these women were in a no worse mood when they were menstruating than when they were not. Thus, peoples recall of their emotional experiences is biased in systematic ways, prompting errors in affective forecasting (intensity & duration). Slide 22 4. Correction for Unique Influences A basic problem with assessing our affective reaction to an event (e.g., getting divorced) and deciding how likely we are to have the same reaction in the future is that the circumstances under which people make affective forecasts are almost always different from the circumstances under which they will actually experience an event. As such, people must subtract out several potential sources of bias on their current assessments of their feelings (i.e., correction for unique influences). Slide 23 Projection Bias Imagine you have flu and are trying to decide whether to go to a party in 2 weeks time. Typically peoples current emotional state taints their predictions about how they will feel in the future. Projection Bias tendency for people to under-appreciate the effects of changes in their states, hence falsely project their current preferences (and feelings) onto their future preferences (and feelings). Loewenstein et al. (1999) this bias is an instance of mental contamination peoples judgments, emotions and behaviours are influenced in unwanted ways (Wilson & Brekke, 1994). Slide 24 Mental Decontamination is Tricky why is decontamination tricky (Wilson & Brekke, 1994)? awareness of bias knowledge of direction of bias motivation to correct ability to correct shoppers who have not eaten fail to take this into account when in the supermarket (Gilbert et al., 2002). how much would you enjoy eating spaghetti tomorrow morning or evening? Under cognitive load, hungry participants fail to adjust their judgments and report that spaghetti for breakfast would be very enjoyable (Gilbert et al., 2002) Thus, inadequate correction can lead to a range of forecasting errors. Slide 25 5. Expectation Effects (Assimilation & Contrast) Expectation effects occur when peoples affective forecasts change their actual emotional experience. Imagine going to a m