More intense experiences, less intense forecasts: Why people overweight probability specifications in affective forecasts

E.C. Buechel, J. Zhang, C.K. Morewedge, J. Vosgerau

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

We propose that affective forecasters overestimate the extent to which experienced hedonic responses to an outcome are influenced by the probability of its occurrence. The experience of an outcome (e.g., winning a gamble) is typically more affectively intense than the simulation of that outcome (e.g., imagining winning a gamble) upon which the affective forecast for it is based. We suggest that, as a result, experiencers allocate a larger share of their attention toward the outcome (e.g., winning the gamble) and less to its probability specifications than do affective forecasters. Consequently, hedonic responses to an outcome are less sensitive to its probability specifications than are affective forecasts for that outcome. The results of 6 experiments provide support for our theory. Affective forecasters overestimated how sensitive experiencers would be to the probability of positive and negative outcomes (Experiments 1 and 2). Consistent with our attentional account, differences in sensitivity to probability specifications disappeared when the attention of forecasters was diverted from probability specifications (Experiment 3) or when the attention of experiencers was drawn toward probability specifications (Experiment 4). Finally, differences in sensitivity to probability specifications between forecasters and experiencers were diminished when the forecasted outcome was more affectively intense (Experiments 5 and 6).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)20-36
JournalJournal of Personality and Social Psychology
Volume106
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2014

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