Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

After good or bad events, people forget how they thought they'd feel

Date:
November 2, 2010
Source:
American Psychological Association
Summary:
People aren't very accurate at predicting how good or bad they'll feel after an event -- such as watching their team lose the big game or getting a flat-screen TV. But afterward, they "misremember" what they predicted, revising their prognostications after the fact to match how they actually feel, according to new research.

People aren't very accurate at predicting how good or bad they'll feel after an event -- such as watching their team lose the big game or getting a flat-screen TV. But afterwards, they "misremember" what they predicted, revising their prognostications after the fact to match how they actually feel, according to new research.

These findings appear in the November issue of the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, published by the American Psychological Association.

Although the process of predicting emotions seems imprecise from start to finish, misremembering predictions might actually be motivating. Trust in one's emotional instincts could be "nature's feedback mechanism to steer us toward actions that are good for us," said psychologist Tom Meyvis, PhD, of New York University. Our ignorance of this tendency might help keep us motivated to avoid what we expect to be awful and work for what we hope will be great, he suggested.

Four studies compared an actual and recollected prediction to post-event feelings for each of four different scenarios:

  • Before the 2005 Super Bowl football game, 19 Philadelphia Eagles fans were asked: How happy will you be if they lose to the Patriots? After the loss, they were asked: How happy are you? How happy did you think you would be?
  • Before the 2008 presidential election, 73 supporters of John McCain were asked: How upset will you be if Obama wins? After his win, they were asked: How upset are you about Obama's win? How upset did you think you would be?
  • Before making an important purchase, 40 participants were asked: How happy will it make you feel? After the purchase, they were asked: How happy are you? How happy did you think you'd be?
  • Before they ate a jelly bean in two separate sequences (after eating a more preferred or less preferred flavor), 53 participants were asked: How much will you enjoy this jelly bean in each sequence? After eating both sequences of jelly beans, they were asked: How much did you enjoy the jelly bean in each sequence? How much did you think you would enjoy it?

Across the studies, participants inaccurately predicted their feelings and wrongly recalled their predictions. Indeed, whether an event had been anticipated or dreaded, peoples' revised predictions shifted toward how they actually felt. For example, Eagles fans said in advance they'd hate it if the Patriots won but afterward, they shrugged off the loss and said they always knew they'd be OK.

The results reveal a bias toward using current feelings to infer our earlier predictions. People don't realize they made a mistake, so they don't learn from that mistake -- and keep making the same errors, said the researchers. "So, next time, Eagles fans will again expect to be devastated after their team's loss," Meyvis predicted.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Psychological Association. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Tom Meyvis, Rebecca K. Ratner, Jonathan Levav. Why Don’t We Learn to Accurately Forecast Feelings? How Misremembering Our Predictions Blinds Us to Past Forecasting Errors. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 2010; 139 (4): 579-589 DOI: 10.1037/a0020285

Cite This Page:

American Psychological Association. "After good or bad events, people forget how they thought they'd feel." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 2 November 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/11/101101171236.htm>.
American Psychological Association. (2010, November 2). After good or bad events, people forget how they thought they'd feel. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 2, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/11/101101171236.htm
American Psychological Association. "After good or bad events, people forget how they thought they'd feel." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/11/101101171236.htm (accessed September 2, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Can You Train Your Brain To Eat Healthy?

Can You Train Your Brain To Eat Healthy?

Newsy (Sep. 1, 2014) New research says if you condition yourself to eat healthy foods, eventually you'll crave them instead of junk food. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Coffee Then Napping: The (New) Key To Alertness

Coffee Then Napping: The (New) Key To Alertness

Newsy (Aug. 30, 2014) Researchers say having a cup of coffee then taking a nap is more effective than a nap or coffee alone. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Young Entrepreneurs Get $100,000, If They Quit School

Young Entrepreneurs Get $100,000, If They Quit School

AFP (Aug. 29, 2014) Twenty college-age students are getting 100,000 dollars from a Silicon Valley leader and a chance to live in San Francisco in order to work on the start-up project of their dreams, but they have to quit school first. Duration: 02:20 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Baby Babbling Might Lead To Faster Language Development

Baby Babbling Might Lead To Faster Language Development

Newsy (Aug. 29, 2014) A new study suggests babies develop language skills more quickly if their parents imitate the babies' sounds and expressions and talk to them often. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins