Mispredicting distress following romantic breakup: Revealing the time course of the affective forecasting error

Paul W. Eastwick, Eli J Finkel*, Tamar Krishnamurti, George Loewenstein

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations

Abstract

People evidence significant inaccuracies when predicting their response to many emotional life events. One unanswered question is whether such affective forecasting errors are due to participants' poor estimation of their initial emotional reactions (an initial intensity bias), poor estimation of the rate at which these emotional reactions diminish over time (a decay bias), or both. The present research used intensive longitudinal procedures to explore this question in the wake of an upsetting life event: the dissolution of a romantic relationship. Results revealed that the affective forecasting error is entirely accounted for by an initial intensity bias, with no contribution by a decay bias. In addition, several moderators of the affective forecasting error emerged: participants who were more in love with their partners, who thought it was unlikely they would soon enter a new relationship, and who played less of a role in initiating the breakup made especially inaccurate forecasts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)800-807
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Experimental Social Psychology
Volume44
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - May 1 2008

Keywords

  • Affective forecasting
  • Breakup
  • Longitudinal
  • Love
  • Romantic relationships

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science

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