In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Affective Forecasting

  • Introduction
  • Failures to Anticipate the Pleasures of Uncertainty
  • Interpersonal Relationships

Psychology Affective Forecasting
Cheryl Hahn, Dieynaba Ndiaye, Timothy Wilson, Daniel Gilbert
  • LAST REVIEWED: 26 August 2022
  • LAST MODIFIED: 29 November 2011
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199828340-0003


In our everyday life it is common to make predictions about our future emotions. For example, we may predict that we will feel devastated if we were to break up with a significant other or that we will be extremely happy if we get good news from a medical test. Although such predictive tendencies are common, research on affective forecasting suggests that they are prone to systematic errors. Since the mid-1990s dozens of articles have been published on affective forecasting. Researchers have explored the mechanisms by which people make predictions about their future feelings, the errors to which they are prone, and the implications of these errors as well the implications of these findings for applied areas such as medicine, law, and consumer behavior. We split this literary guide into seven sections. General Overviews includes works summarizing the findings in the literature and questions that still need to be addressed. Processes, Errors, and Mechanisms contains articles describing errors in affective forecasting and the processes involved in making forecasts. Correcting Errors includes studies attempting to reduce affective forecasting errors. Failures to Anticipate the Pleasures of Uncertainty contains articles showing that uncertainty about positive events prolongs the pleasure they bring but that people do not anticipate this in advance. Applications contains articles applying affective forecasting findings to Marketing, Medicine, Law, and The Environment. Interpersonal Relationships has articles about affective forecasting in an interpersonal context, such as how other people shape affective forecasts and how people predict others’ emotions. Finally, Individual Differences has articles applying the findings from affective forecasting research to people of different Personalities and Cultures and to Aging.

General Overviews

We split the general overviews into two subsections: Descriptions of Affective Forecasting and Sources of Affective Forecasting Errors.

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