Did you ever wonder how long would you feel happy if you won the lottery? Or how long would you be angry if you got fired from your job? And what about one of your co-workers, or a neighbor? Thinking about the future is full of predictions about how people will feel and for how long. Based on these predictions people will make decisions on how much they should invest in a lottery ticket or how much hard work
they should put on their job. Evidence from research on affective forecasting has suggested that there is a strong degree of inaccuracy and over- or underestimation of these affective states. What is then the ingredient that makes our predictions powerfully influence our decisions when we know that often we are just overreacting? Desirability! Wishing for the positive things to happen and for the negative things to fade is one of the best strategies to maximize well-being and to avoid pain. To investigate this assumption, we conducted six studies with hundreds of people, to test if there was an asymmetry in forecasting the duration of positive vs. negative emotions for the self but not for others. As recently published in the Journal Emotion, we found robust evidence for the fact that forecasting the emotion duration is predicted by the desire that events were to happen to the self (vs. others). Some participants in our studies were asked to imagine a series of positive events (e.g., having their work recognized with an international award; graduating in the top three of the class; winning the lottery) and a series of negative events (e.g., being betrayed by his/her loved one; having cancer; getting fired) as if they were happening to the self. Other participants were asked to imagine the same events as if they were to happen to an average person. After each event everyone was asked to estimate the duration of happiness for positive events and sadness for negative events and the extent to which they found each of the event desirable. Among those who made estimates for the self, happiness was estimated to last significantly longer than sadness. This valence asymmetry was highly related to the desirability of the event, which was found only for the self but not for average others. To make our account more solid, in another study, some participants read about how desirable is to experience more negative and less positive emotions. The other participants were not instructed to read anything (control group). Next participants were asked to estimate the duration of happiness for the same positive events and the duration of sadness for the same negative events. For those participants who were encouraged to desire more negative and less positive emotions, the duration asymmetry between happiness and sadness was less pronounced than for participants in the control group. Motivated thinking is actually a powerful tool to influence decision-making and to maximize the experience of desirable affective states. However, we believe that desirable asymmetric forecasts for the self vs. others may have harsh consequences on different grounds. Particularly, in
risk-taking behavior: If people believe that their own desirable emotions are to last longer than their undesirable ones, they might underestimate the consequences of their undesirable behavior, becoming more vulnerable to irrational financial decisions or unhealthy behaviors.
Mata, A., Simão, C., Farias, A. R., & Steimer, A. (2018). Forecasting the Duration of Emotions: A Motivational Account and Self-Other Differences. Emotion.
Previous research shows that all consumers seek differentiation in choices. Consumers want to show their identity in their choices. We show that liberals and conservatives seek differentiation in distinct ways. Liberals seek horizontal differentiation with more unique, different, personalized products, whereas conservatives seek vertical differentiation with more status, luxurious, high price products. This is because conservatives and liberals hold opposing beliefs about the legitimacy of the social hierarchy. Conservatives endorse the dominance-based view that the social hierarchy legitimately reflects individual differences in effort and ability, whereas liberals oppose that view. Someone driving a convertible Ferrari is more likely to vote for Trump. And someone wearing orange tennis shoes is more likely to vote for Obama.
Ordabayeva, N. & Fernandes, D. (2018). Better or Different? How Political Ideology Shapes Preferences for Differentiation in the Social Hierarchy. Journal of Consumer Research.
Regarding the financial well-being paper, in a nutshell, we develop a scale of financial well-being that is composed of two related, but separate constructs: 1) current money management stress); and 2) expected future financial security. Separate antecedents predict these two constructs. Present-biased behaviors like making late or minimum payments, being materialistic and lacking self-control increase current money management stress, whereas more long-term beneficial behaviors like planning for money, having savings and investments, and being willing to take risks increase future financial security. Financial well-being explains about half of the variance in general well-being. This is a very strong effect for social science standards. For comparison purposes, other important domains of life such as relationship support, job satisfaction, and health altogether explain another half of the variance in general well-being. This shows that our personal finances represent a key part of our well-being. For low-income consumers, current money management stress has a stronger influence on well-being. For middle and high-income consumers, what really matters is a sense of future financial security.
Netemeyer, R. G., Warmath, D., Fernandes, D. & Lynch Jr., J. (in press). How Am I Doing? Perceived Financial Well-Being, Its Potential Antecedents, and Its Relation to Overall Well-Being. Journal of Consumer Research.
João Niza Braga
Will Cristiano Ronaldo be the star of the upcoming champions league?
In order to make predictions about the future, people often rely on easy and quick intuitions, heuristics. In the present research, we show that people are faster to come up with the intuition that the future will be a simple continuation of the most recent and accessible past (the availability heuristic) than to have the intuition that the future will match a pattern of outcomes that is representative of the event we are trying to predict (the representativeness heuristic).
For instance, people may use the representativeness heuristic and think about Cristiano Ronaldo as a 34 year-old professional footballer with a declining athletic condition who just moved to a different team, so he is likely to have a disappointing performance next season . However, in such busy and demanding world, where decisions are often made under time pressure, we are more prone to use the availability heuristic and expect Cristiano Ronaldo to continue the outstanding performance he has been delivering over the last seasons in the upcoming season.
Braga, J. N., Ferreira, M. B., Sherman, S. J., Mata, A., Jacinto, S., & Ferreira, M. (2018). What's next? Disentangling availability from representativeness using binary decision tasks. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 76, 307-319.