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My imagination versus your feelings: can personal affective forecasts be improved by knowing other peoples' emotions?

Authors
  • Walsh, Emma
  • Ayton, Peter
Type
Published Article
Journal
Journal of experimental psychology. Applied
Publication Date
Dec 01, 2009
Volume
15
Issue
4
Pages
351–360
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1037/a0017984
PMID: 20025420
Source
Medline
License
Unknown

Abstract

A proposed remedy for biased affective forecasts is to base judgments on the actual feelings of people (surrogates) currently experiencing the event, rather than using imagination which conjures an inaccurate vision of the future. Gilbert et al. (2009) forced people to use surrogate reports by withholding all event information, resulting in better predictions. However, in life surrogate information rarely supplants event information--can people effectively integrate both types of information into their judgments? In five studies, respondents predicted the impact of a health state on their own happiness. Respondents incorporated surrogate information into their judgments both in the presence and absence of event information. However, they inappropriately discounted other people's experiences as a valid predictor of their own--particularly in the presence of event information--and imagined their happiness would be different to surrogates' happiness. Excluding preexisting event knowledge, changing the size of the surrogate sample, or increasing the size of the response scale did not alter the adjustment. Although surrogate information improved affective forecasts, its influence was diminished by the presence of event information.

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