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http://ssrn.com/abstract=1552394
 
 

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Hope Over Experience: Desirability and the Persistence of Optimism


Cade Massey


University of Pennsylvania - The Wharton School

Joseph P. Simmons


University of Pennsylvania - The Wharton School; University of Pennsylvania - Operations & Information Management Department

David A. Armor


San Diego State University

February 8, 2010

Massey, Cade, Joseph P. Simmons, and David A. Armor (2011), “Hope Over Experience: Desirability and the Persistence of Optimism,” Psychological Science, 22 (February), 274-281.

Abstract:     
Many important decisions hinge on expectations of future outcomes. Decisions about health, investments, and relationships all depend on predictions of the future. These expectations are often optimistic: People frequently believe that their preferred outcomes are more likely than is merited. Yet it is unclear whether optimism persists with experience and, surprisingly, whether it is truly caused by desire. These are important questions because life’s most consequential decisions often feature both strong preferences and the opportunity to learn. We investigated these questions by collecting football predictions from National Football League fans during each week of the 2008 season. Despite accuracy incentives and extensive feedback, predictions about preferred teams remained optimistically biased through the entire season. Optimism was as strong after 4 months as it was after 4 weeks. We exploit variation in preferences and matchups to show that desirability fueled this optimistic bias.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 9

Keywords: Judgment, Learning, Prediction, Preferences, Optimism

JEL Classification: D83, D84

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Date posted: February 13, 2010 ; Last revised: August 24, 2012

Suggested Citation

Massey, Cade and Simmons, Joseph P. and Armor, David A., Hope Over Experience: Desirability and the Persistence of Optimism (February 8, 2010). Massey, Cade, Joseph P. Simmons, and David A. Armor (2011), “Hope Over Experience: Desirability and the Persistence of Optimism,” Psychological Science, 22 (February), 274-281.. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1552394 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1552394

Contact Information

Cade Massey (Contact Author)
University of Pennsylvania - The Wharton School ( email )
3641 Locust Walk
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6365
United States
Joseph P. Simmons
University of Pennsylvania - The Wharton School ( email )
3733 Spruce Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6374
United States
University of Pennsylvania - Operations & Information Management Department ( email )
Jon M. Huntsman Hall
3730 Walnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States
HOME PAGE: http://opimweb.wharton.upenn.edu/people/faculty.cfm?id=1666

David A. Armor
San Diego State University ( email )
San Diego, CA 92182-0763
United States
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