But How Did You Expect To Feel?: The Motivated Misremembering of Affective Forecasts
Associate Professor Alexander (Sasha) Fedorikhin, Indiana University
15th Mar 2013 02:00 pm - Room 214/215, H69 - Economics and Business Building
Research on the hindsight bias has shown that when forecasts and experiences are discrepant, people often recall their forecast as being closer to the experience than it actually was. The present research demonstrates that people tend to misremember their affective forecasts even when their experience was similar to their actual forecast. In a series of studies, both with real affective forecasts and under strict lab control, we show that when experiences and expectations align, people recall their affective forecasts as being less favorable than both their actual forecasts and their actual experiences. We claim that people misremember their forecasts so as to make the experience feel more surprising to them. Since surprising outcomes are often more elating than expected outcomes, people feel happier when they misremember their predictions in this way. People evidently are motivated to convince themselves that a good-as-expected experience was unexpectedly good. We demonstrate that people report greater affective arousal at the time of recall when they misremember their forecasts. Furthermore, this illusory surprise effect can actually alter the choices that participants subsequently make.