Motivation and emotion/Book/2016/Affective forecasting

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Affective forecasting:
What is it, and how does it impact our lives?

Overview[edit | edit source]

Affective forecasting can influence motivation and decision making (Wilson, & Gilbert, 2005)[explain?][Provide more detail]. Often affective forecasting is inaccurate largely due to three factors: impact bias, focalism, and immune neglect. These inaccuracies are referred to as affective forecasting errors, which can impact the likelihood of behaviour occurrence.

Appraisal theory states that emotions occur as a result of an assessment of a situation or a stimulus, once an emotion is apparent, the behavioural response to that emotion is then expressed. Research on affective forecasting is somewhat limited and should be further investigated[vague], especially in consideration of the impact appraisals of future emotional states has on decision making[explain?].

Affective Forecasting[edit | edit source]

Affective forecasting occurs when people make predictions about what they anticipate their emotional reactions will be to future events (Wilson, & Gilbert, 2005). There are three main factors, which contribute to affective forecasting errors: impact bias, focalism, and immune neglect (Halpern & Arnold, 2008).

Impact Bias[edit | edit source]

Impact bias occurs when people overestimate the intensity and/or duration of emotional affect in response to an event (Wilson, & Gilbert, 2005). The large problem with this is that the incorrect assumption that an event will be more emotionally evocative, is that decision-making regarding that event is subsequently impacted (Wilson, & Gilbert, 2005)[explain?]. Classical and operant conditioning persuade us to repeat or cease behaviours dependent on their expected result (Wilson, & Gilbert, 2005). This is also true of expected emotional outcomes, if a person is expecting to be rewarded by a happy emotional state after an event, they are more likely to attend, and conversely if they expect to be made angry or upset by an event they will likely try to avoid it (Wilson, & Gilbert, 2005).

[for example?]

Focalism[edit | edit source]

Focalism refers to the failure of a person to anticipate other co-occurring factors which may influence, or contribute to their emotional experience of a future situation (Emanuel, Updegraff, Kalmbach, & Ciesla, 2010). An example of this is die-hard sports fans who overestimate the elation they would experience if their team won the grand final (Wilson, & Gilbert, 2005). In reality there are an abundance of factors, which could diminish their overall positive experience of the good result (Wilson, & Gilbert, 2005). It is possible that they could be stressed by work, had just broken up with their partner, have lost a loved one, and so on, all of which could detract from their happiness about their team winning (Wilson, & Gilbert, 2005). 

Immune Neglect[edit | edit source]

People often underestimate their capacity to cope, adapt and understand emotional situations and their response to them (Halpern, & Arnold, 2008). Coping and defence mechanisms are often largely unconscious processes, which occur without active consideration (Halpern, & Arnold, 2008). People make sense of their emotions and feelings in a way that accelerates their emotional recovery, much faster than they tend to anticipate (Wilson, & Gilbert, 2005).

Appraisal Theory[edit | edit source]

Figure 1: Arnold's appraisal theory of emotion

Appraisal theory states that our experience of emotion is based on our appraisal of a situation. If a situation or event is viewed as positive, you experience positive affect, similarly if the situation is appraised as negative you are likely to experience negative emotions (Arnold, 1970). Appraisal theory is in line with affective forecasting, in that the assumptions a person makes about their future emotional state is based in their appraisal of positive and negative aspects of the situation. Figure 1, provides a visual representation of the stages involved in appraisal theory.

Most theories of emotion have a physiological aspect of emotion, which doesn't fit as well with affective forecasting, because the actual emotion is only being anticipated rather than experienced. This makes it difficult to place among many of the theories, unless you consider affective forecasting as a precursor to the other stages within theories of emotion.

Conclusion[edit | edit source]

Affective forecasting is when a person makes a prediction about their expected emotional response to a future event (Wilson, & Gilbert, 2005). Overall affective forecasting is a functional aspect of emotional anticipation, which contributes to motivation and decision making (Wilson, & Gilbert, 2005).

The impact that affective forecasting has on decisions as serious as medical treatment demonstrates the importance of further research into this concept, in order to facilitate minimisation of detrimental effects (Halpern, & Arnold, 2008). More research should be done in this area in order to determine what factors can reduce affective forecasting errors[vague]. Affective forecasting errors can increase or decrease the likelihood of behaviour occurrence which, dependent on the situation can be good, or maladaptive (Wilson, & Gilbert, 2005).

References[edit | edit source]

Arnold, M. B. (1970). Perennial problems in the field of emotion. In Feelings and emotions: The Loyola symposium (pp. 169-186). New York: Academic Press.

Buechel, E., Morewedge, C., & Vosgerau, J. (2010). Motivated bias in affective forecasting.Advances in Consumer Research, 37, 762.

Emanuel, A. S., Updegraff, J. A., Kalmbach, D. A., & Ciesla, J. A. (2010). The role of mindfulness facets in affective forecasting. Personality and Individual Differences, 49(7), 815-818. doi:10.1016/j.paid.2010.06.012 Halpern, J., & Arnold, R. M. (2008). Affective forecasting: An unrecognized challenge in making serious health decisions. Journal of General Internal Medicine, 23(10), 1708-1712. doi:10.1007/s11606-008-0719-5

Hoerger, M., & Quirk, S. W. (2010). Affective forecasting and the big five. Personality and Individual Differences, 49(8), 972-976. doi:10.1016/j.paid.2010.08.007

Hoerger, M., Scherer, L. D., & Fagerlin, A. (2016). Affective forecasting and medication decision making in breast-cancer prevention. Health Psychology : Official Journal of the Division of Health Psychology, American Psychological Association, 35(6), 594-603. doi:10.1037/hea0000324

Scheibe, S., Mata, R., & Carstensen, L. L. (2011). Age differences in affective forecasting and experienced emotion surrounding the 2008 US presidential election. Cognition & Emotion,25(6), 1029-1044. doi:10.1080/02699931.2010.545543

Wilson, T. D., & Gilbert, D. T. (2005). Affective forecasting: Knowing what to want. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 14(3), 131-134. doi:10.1111/j.0963-7214.2005.00355.x