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
Date Written: 2010
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: Suggested Citation