People often make mistakes in predicting emotional value of events in the future. There are various biases leading to inaccurate forecasts that individuals make about their own affective experience associated with particular outcomes of prospective situations. This post was aimed to provide a list of biases in affective forecasting that had been reported by scientists.

1. Durability Bias: People Overestimate Duration of Emotions Caused by Events

When asked to predict duration of their emotional experience related to a particular event in the future people cannot accurately recall similar experience in the past, learn from it, and make a forecast. They tend to overestimate duration of their emotions. This error is likely to be caused by the following circumstances:

  • Recalling affective experience associated with a past event requires some effort. It is easier and more pleasant to just think about a future event in isolation from the past.
  • Past experience is often related to an event that is not 100% similar to the one that is about to happen in the future. Therefore, emotions that were experienced in the past also do not provide a perfect basis for making a prediction.
  • Even if an individual made an effort for recalling her past experience rather than simply thinking about the future event and the past experience was very similar to the one that she would soon experience, there is still a high possibility of a mistake in reconstructing the memories.

Source: T. D. Wilson, J. Meyers, and D. T. Gilbert, “Lessons from the Past: Do People Learn from Experience that Emotional Reactions Are Short-Lived?,” Personal. Soc. Psychol. Bull., vol. 27, no. 12, pp. 1648–1661, Dec. 2001.

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