People commonly overestimate the intensity of their emotions toward future events. In other words, they display an impact bias. This research addresses the question whether people learn from their experiences and correct for the impact bias. We hypothesize that athletes display an impact bias and, counterintuitively, that increased experience with an event increases this impact bias. A field study in the context of competitive track athletics supported our hypotheses by showing that athletes clearly overestimated their emotions toward the outcome of a track event and that this impact bias was more pronounced for negative events than for positive events. Moreover, with increased athletic experience this impact bias became larger. This effect could not be explained by athletes’ forecasted emotions, but it could be explained by the emotions they actually felt following the race. The more experience athletes had with athletics, the less they felt negative emotions after unsuccessful goal attainment. These findings are discussed in relation to possible underlying emotion regulation processes.
van Dijk, W. W., Finkenauer, C., & Pollmann, M. (2008). The Misprediction of Emotions in Track Athletics: Is Experience the Teacher of all Things? Basic and Applied Social Psychology, 30(4), 369-376. https://doi.org/10.1080/01973530802502358