Saturday, May 19, 2012

Affective Forecasting!

After trying to finish this since the mid of the past semester (thanks to my really busy schedule) I have decided to finally finish this post.

Affective forecasting is one of the most interesting topics that I studied about in this past semester. This could also be called one form of cognitive dissonance. To explain this, lets go to the fox and grapes story when the fox keeps trying to reach the grapes and eventually tells itself that the grapes are sour and moves on. Perhaps all our lives, we keep developing such little theories to help ourselves move on in life.

Research suggests that we are not the best at predicting our future emotional states. We are guided by our present feelings in deciding how we might feel in the future. These are best explained with examples. Ever since I learnt about this topic, every now and then I am reminded about how affective forecasting has affected me in life.

Take for instance, a romantic relationship. In my opinion more often than not romantic 'love' is a great example of affective forecasting. Perhaps when you fall head over heels in 'love' with someone you tend to overestimate your emotional feelings for that person. There are impact biases of such feelings. Or in other words we wrongly estimate our levels of future happiness. When in love, the first kind of impact bias is when you tend to feel that being with that person will bring you all the happiness you ever wanted in your life and that life without them would be impossible to imagine. A second bias is that when you break up with that person, you tend to underestimate your capability of resilience or in other words capability to get over the broken relationship. Research suggests that the first bias could lead to depression when you affectively forecast your future emotions and your expectations of the other unconsciously keeps increasing and there is a high probability that you might eventually feel that your ever growing expectations are not being met. While the second bias surprisingly works the other way around where you underestimate your capabilities and surprise yourself with respect to how you handled your break up. Of course there are exceptions to this.

These biases and affective forecasting are not limited to love, but love just in my opinion is an awesome example of affective forecasting. Other examples could include spending a lot on something that you think would give you pleasure but that you end up rarely using it. Even running after money or other hedonic pleasures are often a case of affective forecasting.

Affective forecasting can influence your life both negatively and positively. It could both help us move on in life by helping or depress us. Nevertheless, I believe affective forecasting offers an opportunity for companies to marketing their products better. I guess I would update this post after researching a little bit further about this.

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