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Why Don't We Learn to Accurately Forecast Feelings? How Misremembering Our Predictions Blinds Us to Past Forecasting Errors

Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, Vol. 139, pp. 579-589, November 2010

11 Pages Posted: 22 May 2008 Last revised: 27 Jul 2011

Tom Meyvis

New York University (NYU) - Department of Marketing

Rebecca K. Ratner

University of Maryland - Department of Marketing

Jonathan Levav

Columbia Business School - Marketing

Date Written: 2010

Abstract

Why do affective forecasting errors persist in the face of repeated disconfirming evidence? Five studies demonstrate that people misremember their forecasts as consistent with their experience and thus fail to perceive the extent of their forecasting error. As a result, people do not learn from past forecasting errors and fail to adjust subsequent forecasts. In the context of a Super Bowl loss (Study 1), a presidential election (Studies 2 and 3), an important purchase (Study 4), and the consumption of candies (Study 5), individuals mispredicted their affective reactions to these experiences and subsequently misremembered their predictions as more accurate than they had actually been. Our findings indicate that this recall error results from people’s tendency to anchor on their current affective state when trying to recall their affective forecasts. Further, those who showed larger recall errors were less likely to learn to adjust their subsequent forecasts and reminding people of their actual forecasts enhanced learning. These results suggest that a failure to accurately recall one’s past predictions contributes to the perpetuation of forecasting errors.

Keywords: affective forecasts, prediction errors, memory bias

JEL Classification: C91, D83

Suggested Citation

Meyvis, Tom and Ratner, Rebecca K. and Levav, Jonathan, Why Don't We Learn to Accurately Forecast Feelings? How Misremembering Our Predictions Blinds Us to Past Forecasting Errors (2010). Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, Vol. 139, pp. 579-589, November 2010. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1135805

Tom Meyvis (Contact Author)

New York University (NYU) - Department of Marketing ( email )

Henry Kaufman Ctr
44 W 4 St.
New York, NY
United States

Rebecca K. Ratner

University of Maryland - Department of Marketing ( email )

College Park, MD 20742
United States

Jonathan Levav

Columbia Business School - Marketing ( email )

New York, NY 10027
United States

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