Consumers Believe They Will Have More Control Over the Future than They Did Over the Past
58 Pages Posted: 22 Jul 2011 Last revised: 3 Sep 2017
Date Written: August 25, 2017
People repeatedly fail to bring about desired outcomes, and yet they also fail to learn from their own and others’ mistakes. One potential cause for this failure to learn is that people believe that they will have more control over the future than they had over the past. Across several real-life and hypothetical scenarios, participants express the belief that, despite the uncertainty inherent in the future, future outcomes will be more under their control than were identical past outcomes. This is true in self-control contexts as well as for more general behaviors and life circumstances. The difference does not arise solely due to a broad sense of optimism, but instead is related to the fact that people generally believe the future to be open and malleable and the past to be fixed and unchangeable—regardless of how much control people will or did exert at the time.
Keywords: consumer behavior, judgment and decision making, control, illusion of control
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