The Belief in a Favorable Future

25 Pages Posted: 22 Nov 2014

See all articles by Todd Rogers

Todd Rogers

Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS)

Michael I. Norton

Harvard Business School - Marketing Unit

Date Written: October 7, 2014

Abstract

We propose that people hold a belief in a favorable future (BFF), projecting that the future will change in ways advantageous to their current interests. People believe that their political views, entertainment preferences, and scientific beliefs will be more widely held by others in the future (Study 1). BFF is greater in magnitude than the false-consensus effect (Study 2). BFF does not reflect a generalized optimism about the future or a belief that others will become more similar to the self: people believe the future will change in self-benefitting way, in particular (Study 3). BFF is greatest when people believe their views are based on objective truth (Study 4). Ironically, BFF may make the futures people anticipate less likely to occur by undermining people’s motivation to take action today to bring about the favorable futures they believe to be inevitable.

Keywords: Social cognition, judgment, prediction, forecasting, false-consensus

Suggested Citation

Rogers, Todd and Norton, Michael I., The Belief in a Favorable Future (October 7, 2014). HKS Working Paper No. RWP14-048. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2528680 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2528680

Todd Rogers (Contact Author)

Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) ( email )

79 John F. Kennedy Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Michael I. Norton

Harvard Business School - Marketing Unit ( email )

Soldiers Field
Boston, MA 02163
United States

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