Using emotional flow in patient testimonials to debias affective forecasting in health decision-making

Kerstin Hundal*, Christopher M. Dobmeier, Nathan Walter, Robin Nabi, Courtney L. Scherr

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


People often overestimate the duration and intensity of emotional impact for future health events, leading to sub-optimal decision-making. Previous attempts to mitigate these affective forecasting errors have had only limited success. Across two experiments with different emotional appeals (fear and disgust), health contexts (genetic testing and colonoscopy), and samples (women and African American men), this research explored the potential of emotional flow in testimonials to attenuate affective forecasting errors and increase positive health outcomes. Both studies demonstrated that a narrative intervention that mirrored shifts in emotional intensity throughout health-screening procedure testimonials increased affective forecasting accuracy and behavioral intent. These findings highlight the importance of incorporating emotional shifts in narratives to facilitate individuals’ ability to better predict future emotional reactions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)102-125
Number of pages24
JournalCommunication Monographs
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2024


  • Affective forecasting
  • colonoscopy
  • decision-making
  • emotional flow
  • genetic testing
  • narrative persuasion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Language and Linguistics


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